Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Chennai youngster invents hybrid eco-friendly cab

To tackle the ever growing menace of rising fuel price and risk of pollution, Shivaraj Muthuraman has invented a cab that runs on solar energy and electrical charging. The cab will be launched on August 14, 2013.

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Sunday, 28 July 2013

In May this year, 19 year old Diwank Singh Tomer joined 19 other young and exceptional youngsters from around the world to become a Thiel Fellow. The Thiel foundation’s fellowship comes with a $100,000 cheque and access to some of the greatest mentors of our times not least of whom is the legendary Peter Thiel - PayPal co-founder and Facebook's first investor.
Tomer is now working on a platform to create interactive lessons in basic sciences in the mecca of technology– the Silicon Valley. It isn’t often that a youngster–schooled in the hills of Mussoorie  and a college dropout– makes it that far at 19. Tomer’s journey is both fascinating and inspiring.   It all started when he was eight when his mother took him to a summer coding camp.  "I also turned out to be pretty good at it and had a small article about me in the local newspapers when I was 8,” says Tomer, who was hailed as an “exceptional hacker,” by the Thiel foundation. 
Born in small town India, he was sent to boarding schools by parents who wanted him to get better education. In 10th standard, he scored 98% marks, studying at the Wynberg Allen School.  “I really picked up a good hold on spoken English there as well,” says Tomer, who completed high school in Delhi Public School in R K Puram, New Delhi. This is where he really started to learn coding. 

After school, he joined a premier engineering college in Goa and dropped out in just a month, last September.  “It was probably the most rewarding (and the most frightening) decision of my life and I don’t regret it at all,” he said and hastens to add that he has nothing against the institute.  “Just that, spending 4 years of my life getting a degree rather than working on things that I am passionate about seem like a poor investment of my time.” Dropping out of college to become an entrepreneur has been an incredibly exciting and humbling experience for him because of his love for building things. 

Tomer is the first technology entrepreneur in his family so it took some time to explain what he was up to, but his family has been supportive of his journey.  “The worst case scenario would have been that I failed, learned quite a bit and went back to college,” he said. After dropping out, he flew to the bay area where he met like minded people.  “Dropping out is definitely a bit more acceptable here (US) exponentially more so in the Silicon Valley where it’s even encouraged to some extent,” he says. In the US, he adds, that many schools have options to take a gap year or rejoining college within a few years. 

In the months to come, he has plans to prototype his idea, hire a team and raise funds to support his venture.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Creativity at Gowdavalli ZP Government High School


6th, 7th, 9th and 10th class students of Gowdavalli Zilla Parishat Government High School, about 45 KM from Hyderabad, swung into action the minute I walked into the class room to conduct creativity workshop.

Young minds were beaming with enthusiasm and were just waiting for my instructions.  The students got newspapers, straws, tape, scissors, thread etc. for the workshop.  I suggested building a water tank or a college building.  Some students came up with their own plans.  They wanted to build park, parrot cage, temple, a small town, etc.  I encouraged them to think independently and go ahead with their plans.

They were really engrossed in the entire workshop.  The teachers were very supportive.  I was really amazed at the imaginary and creative skills of the students.  Though some of the groups were short of material, they all managed to outsmart each other and came up with unique and creative concepts.  They managed to do it in the allotted time and with the limited resources and material.  A student presented me a greeting card made up of pulses.  To me it was a gold medal presented by a future innovator of India.

These students proved that they are second to none when it comes to creativity and innovation.  I requested the principal and the teachers to encourage the students.  I suggested them to present some of the challenges confronting the village and let the students come up with creative ideas to solve the problems.  You never know how these young minds from rural areas will amaze the entire world.  They need to be encouraged.  They are our future.  They have to be carefully nurtured. Some of them will surprise the world with the creativity and innovation. Unfortunately I have limited bandwidth to take up more such activities.  I will do my best; though I know what I am doing is not sufficient.  My quest will continue. There are many individuals who are encouraging creativity in government run schools.  It has to spread across the country and it has to be sustained on a continual basis.

Please take few moments and admire the creativity of the Gowdavalli ZP Government School children.    

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Building World Class Organisations


An article published in DARE Magazine

Happy customers only goal for world class organizations

World class organizations do things differently to be the best of the best.

They believe in setting standards of excellence, whether it is in quality,

customer service, innovating, creating value, or taking caring of their staff.
                                                                                                 By Ravi Talluri

World class organizations produce superior goods and services, ranked by customers to be among the best of the best. They strive for excellence not only in their own industry, but other industries as well. Being “world class” means setting incomparable standards of excellence, in design, performance, quality, customer satisfaction and value creation. Few Indian companies currently belong to this hallowed club; indeed for many of them just surviving the white heat of global competition is a challenge. But, clearly there is ample scope and opportunity for Indian organizations to become world class—if only they could change the paradigm. Having worked in USA and India for more than two decades, I would like to share my insights on how we can become world class.
Customers: Customers are the very cause of the existence of the business. The business starts and ends with customers. Understanding customer requirements and then fulfilling them with suitable products and services is of paramount importance for the success and growth  of any organization. World class organizations continuously strive for complete customer satisfaction and aim for customer delight. I had the opportunity to work for some Fortune 500 companies in USA. In our quarterly review meetings, the first item on the agenda was to discuss customers and their feedback. I have never attended a quarterly meeting where the first agenda was not customers. I was once informed about a customer issue in the middle of the night. The customer was upset with the performance of our product. I immediately asked for the product to be replaced and met the customer. The customer was pleased because we replaced the product immediately and made sure that there was minimal disruption to his production schedule. Later on, I briefed my senior management about the issue. The entire top brass of the organization backed my decision to replace the product immediately. They felt that I took the correct decision to make sure that complete customer satisfaction was ensured. A couple of weeks later, the customer mentioned the incident and our dedication and passion for customer satisfaction in an international gathering. This further enhanced our market image. Customer feedback and satisfaction was the guiding force for developing corporate strategies. Indian companies should make it a point to spend more time with their customers and make complete customer satisfaction their top priority. Understanding customer requirements and meeting their expectations is very vital for the long term success of Indian organizations. Customer feedback is important for gauging customer satisfaction levels. Formal mechanisms should be deployed for understanding customer requirements and capturing their feedback. This information should be used for developing and improving products and services. Employees should be informed about the importance of customers, their satisfaction and their feedback. What sets world class organizations apart from the rest is how well one understands one’s customers and offers them products and services which meet and exceed their expectations.
Capturing customer needs, aspirations, expectations, aversions and requirements is the voice of the customer. This can be done by direct customer interactions, market surveys, observations, warranty data, etc. Once the voice of the customer is captured, the data has to be organized. Tools such as affinity diagrams, QFD, etc., are helpful in organizing the data. These methodologies and tools will systematically link the voice of the customer with various business functions such as marketing, design, quality, production, manufacturing, sales, etc., and align the entire company towards designing and developing products and services to meet customer requirements.
Value creation: The most profitable and fastest growing players in their respective markets put value creation first, not growth or size. These world class companies have built their business models around value creation. Their focus is on value creation for customers, stakeholders, their employees and suppliers. High value creation organizations constantly challenge themselves and ask what we can do that is different from the competition, and how we can create value. Value creation for customers means developing and offering high quality products and services that they find useful and that give them complete satisfaction. Providing superior value to customers results in long lasting customer loyalty. Value for employees means being treated respectfully and being involved in the decision making process. Employees value meaningful work, excellent compensation opportunities, and continued training and development initiatives. Providing consistent and superior returns is value for the investors and stakeholders. If Indian companies want to grow to greatness, they have to put value creation first.
Innovation: To meet the changing aspirations of customers, world class companies are constantly trying to offer innovative products and services. Those who are unable to innovate are in the process of losing business. World class companies encourage employees to develop innovative products and services. While I was working for an automotive company, our group came up with a proposal to develop an airbag to save a child in a mother’s womb during a crash. The management gave the green signal to develop such a product. Organizations should continuously focus on product and process innovation. Product innovation will help organizations to stay ahead of the competition. Process innovation will help them to become more flexible and improve quality standards. Few Indian companies are pioneers of innovative products and services. Innovation is essential not only for gaining competitive advantage, but for the survival of organizations. Employees should be encouraged and empowered to look at opportunities and challenges from a different glass prism. Conducive atmosphere should be created so that it allows employees to engineer innovation. World class companies do not rest on their laurels, they continuously focus on how to make products better tremendous importance to continuous improvement.
Quality: Superior quality products and services are the hallmarks of world class organizations. Quality is everyone’s job. This culture should be ingrained in every employee of the organization. Quality is not inspected for; it is built into the product or service. Quality at source is the philosophy that is adopted at the early stages of the product concept. Every employee feels that it is his/her responsibility to produce world class products or services. Customers are expressing their loyalty by buying superior quality products. Superior quality is the shortcut to becoming world class. Quality is a journey, not a destination. World class companies are obsessed with superior quality. A mindset change has to take place and quality has to be looked at from a different perspective for Indian companies to become world class. Quality is not just about performance. It starts from taking the order, delivering the product, after sales and service – the entire lifecycle of the product. Customers are delighted when they buy products or services from world class companies.
Quality is a journey, not a destination. World class companies are obsessed with superior quality.  A mindset change has to take place and quality has to be looked at from a different perspective for Indian companies to become world class. 
Ravi Talluri
Management Consultant

Benchmarking: World class organizations are continuously benchmarking themselves against the best of the best and striving for excellence in all areas. In fact, some world class organizations spend a lot of time studying the competition, understanding their organization, reviewing their products and strategies. Organizations set tough internal standards and try to exceed those standards. This is how they became world class organizations. World class organizations benchmark customer satisfaction, financial performance, product quality and performance, internal processes, productivity, employee development, safety, etc. Companies identify various metrics for benchmarking based on the products and services they are offering. Companies use both internal and external benchmarking approaches. I had an opportunity to work on such a benchmark assignment while I was working in USA. The benchmark set was against that of a Japanese company. Though USA and Japan were rivals in business, everyone agreed to benchmark the Japanese company. The group spent several months in the benchmarking exercise. This helped in the development of better quality products. Organizations have to make it a habit to continuously benchmark and strive for excellence. Indian companies have to assess to know if what they are doing is the best and what they are on their way to achieving is truly world class. They should benchmark against high performing organizations. Organizations have to aim for the highest standards and implement plans that will help them to join the world class club.

Leadership: The success of world class organizations can be traced back to leaders who possess world class leadership qualities. I was fortunate to work with a senior executive of a Japanese world class company. This leader would not be satisfied with anything less than excellence. He was very demanding and would never comprise on quality and safety aspects. He led by example. At times, when I could not solve a problem, he would stand by my shoulder and show me how to solve the problem. I was surprised by his dedication. Though he was a very senior executive, he would stand along with me for more than 12 hours and for several days and help me solve the problem. Though my association with this leader was for a very brief period, I learned a lot from him and understood how his company had become world class. World class companies are not built overnight. Leadership plays a vital role in shaping the destiny of any organization. Some of the common traits of leaders that I have observed are: They have a very clear vision of the organization; they communicate well with employees; they have impeccable integrity and live by example; they are very passionate about what they are doing and dedication is in their DNA; they nurture creativity and allow openness and treat all employees equally; they are very aggressive, yet they live with humility; they take stress very well and do not get frustrated very easily; they do not accept anything less than excellence; and, they are constantly looking at the future. Indian companies must identify and nurture the right leaders and, more importantly, allow them to transform the company into a world class company.
Organization: World class organizations take a lot of pride in their human capital. The quality of its employees is a report card on the world class status of the organization. These organizations not only attract the best talent, but also retain them. Employees are very well respected in such organizations. Continuous training and development of employees is the hallmark of world class companies. Conducive atmosphere is created so that employees can make meaningful contributions to the organizations. Creativity is nurtured. Employees do not join these organizations just for the compensation packages. They look beyond compensation; they look for recognition, growth, development and happiness. They get plenty of these in world class organizations. Indian companies also have to reach out and should have the insatiable desire to become world class. The need of the hour is the spirit to become world class.
The journey is full of challenges, yet it is possible to achieve world class status. I am an optimist. I will be looking forward to the day when I can write an article about how Indian companies have become world class. Perhaps, that will be the proudest day for all of us.
Ravi Talluri worked with auto majors in the US and is currently a management consultant focusing on SME and rural development. Ravi teaches at various engineering and management colleges in Andhra Pradesh. He lives in Hyderabad.




Friday, 19 July 2013

MBA Students Thinking Beyond The Rat Race

Thinking beyond the rat race: MBA students intern with grocers in Karnataka

Interns with a Dharwad-based fruit and vegetable vendor

It is common for MBA students to intern with big corporate firms, but three youngsters studying at the prestigious Karnatak University in Hubli-Dharwad thought beyond the rat-race.

Desirous of exploring the unorganised fruit and vegetable sector from the marketing perspective, Mohammed Moin, Atul A . and Halaswamy Naik are interning with a Dharwad-based fruit and vegetable vendor, Sadiq.

Dharwad has an estimated 60 such vendors, who ply their trade pitted against a host of challenges including organised retail outlets and middlemen.

The trio says they "want to evolve economically sustainable business models to protect the interests of the vendors", adding that the go -ahead to FDI in retail will pose a formidable challenge for the sector in the long run.

In the process, they added, they will study the consumption patterns of buyers, and find out how vendors store their fruits and vegetables to keep them from rotting.

They are also trying to understand the multiple revenue models and pricing strategies that make the business of street vendors profitable round the year, in times of glut and shortage. The students' initiative has come in for praise from the university's teachers as well as the business community.

"This is a bold step, as they could have opted for any MNC for their internship. Hopefully, they will come up with scalable revenue models for the vendors in the wake of the fast changing dynamics of the retail sector," said Ashok G., CEO, Onleo Solutions, which is involved in customising business solutions for the unorganised retail market.

But most thrilled of all are the vendors themselves. "When the students came to us, we could not say no. They are making good progress. Hopefully, they will guide us in the days ahead," said Saad Pasha, one of the vendors in Dharwad.



Wednesday, 17 July 2013

10th Class student from meerut designs travelling treadmill

Meerut boy designs travelling treadmill

A class 10th student has completed the task of making this unique treadmill within a month in a modest cost of Rs.7000.

Watch Video

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Unsung Heros - School dropout provides free electricity

School dropout provides free electricity by water harvesting in Nainital

Kuber Singh Dogra (32) has earned the tag with his skill, albeit with a precondition - "class-eight-fail engineer." Kuber, who could not study beyond Class VIII because of poor financial condition, has become famous in his village Bailpadav in Nainital district for generating electricity through a watermill.

Kuber Singh Dogra

He is presently providing free electricity to six families in his neighbourhood and is fondly addressed by the villagers as "class-eight-fail engineer." Till a year ago, villagers knew Kuber as a small-time car mechanic who also operated the watermill and used to grind foodgrain in his off time.

Kuber's life took a turn six months ago when some representatives of the Uttarakhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (UREDA), a state government unit, visited the watermill operated by the Dogra family and suggested electricity generation through water harvesting.

The idea made sense to Kuber and he decided to give it a try.

"I had heard about people generating electricity through watermills in the hills. After getting some details, I decided to try it myself. I borrowed money from family members and friends and bought a 3 KVA alternator from Haldwani market. My first few attempts failed. Later, I increased the water force and finally achieved success. Now, I provide free power to six families in the neighbourhood," said Kuber.

His experiment is simple, yet effective. A belt connects the moving turbine of the watermill with the alternator and helps generate electricity.

The watermill, generally busy grinding foodgrain during day, is used as a power generator in the night.

Power supply in Bailpadav village, which touches the famous Corbett Park, remains erratic, especially during Monsoon and when electricity lines are damaged by wild animals.

But the Dogra family and their six neighbours have reliable and regular power supply this rainy season.

Kuber's ancestors had migrated from Baddma village near Pathankot in Jammu and Kashmir to Uttarakhand some four-five decades ago.

The family used to make a living by operating a watermill, which they had taken on lease from the irrigation department.

"Poor family condition and death of my parents forced me to discontinue studies. After failing in class eight examination, I started working at a mechanic shop. Later, I set up a small workshop in my village, but I also operate the watermill," Kuber said.

Kuber borrowed money from family and friends to start his endeavour.



Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Students Bubbling With Creative Skills

Sky is the only limit when it comes to innovation and creativity - Student of Abhyudaya High School , Bakaram, Hyderabad, AP, India proved it on July 6, 2013. I had an opportunity to conduct creativity workshop for class IX students.  Simple materials such as old newspapers, pins, stapler, tape, glue, straws were provided to students and the they were asked to construct a creative tower/building.

The intent of this workshop was to tap the obscure creative talent in the school children and allow them to freely express themselves without any boundaries.  The students were very thrilled and participated enthusiastically.  At the end of the workshop several creative towers were constructed.  Each one was a marvelous tower.  I was really amazed at their ideas.  the students were so excited that they started requesting me to conduct such workshops every Saturday. (Please see the attached photos to get a glimpse of their creativity)
I gave them a puzzle ‘How will you cross a river without a boat or bridge or without swimming. Pat came the answer from a student ‘we will sit on a crocodile and cross the river’.  I was resisting my temptation to yell ‘yahoo’. I could not do so as I was in the midst of the class.  Many students came up with such spontaneous answers.  Another student came up with a beautiful artistic greeting card made out of pistachio nut shells.  I can write on and on about their creative ideas. The paper tower idea is an old concept, but the kids have really come up with fascinating models.  My heart was filled with joy and happiness at the end of the workshop.
I am really thankful to the school management and teachers for allowing me to conduct the workshop at the school.  Once I was interested in conducting a similar workshop for college students.  I approached the college management.  I was asked ‘Can you guarantee college placements will increase if we conduct creativity workshop’.  I was speechless.  Our outlook and mindset has to change.  Indian students have abundant creative ideas. As adults we have to carefully nurture and encourage their ideas. Unfortunately our education system, parents and the schools seldom give importance to creativity.  We are more worried about the academic accolades. It is high time we start focusing on creating platforms to encourage the creative talents in the children.  If they are encouraged from the childhood without any inhibition, I am very confident they will do wonders when they grow up.
Please encourage creativity.  As a billion plus population country, we are still dependent on other countries for several products. There is a crying need to give impetus to creativity in schools and colleges. If creativity is given importance right from the childhood, I am sure that not only will the dependency decrease, but we will also start exporting our products to other countries.  Please allow the child to freely express themselves.  Do not worry about the practical feasibility of the ideas in the initial stages.  The child will slowly develop the skill to convert ideas into actions.
I am keen on conducting similar workshop at a Zilla Parishad High School.  I have seen schools where there are no class rooms.  At the same time I have seen smart students in such schools.  We just need to identify and polish them.  Imagine the positive impact it will have if such schools are also exposed to such activities.  To conduct such workshops we do not need any expensive material.  We can conduct a workshop with used material also.  The only challenge is how to populate this concept to a larger audience.
I would welcome your ideas and perspective on the above subject matter.  Let us start recognizing and encouraging creativity in the children and students.  It will do wonders to our great nation in the long term.  Look forward to your feedback.