Perspectives from the *other side* on Software, Management and Life

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Here's to celebrating my first Linux anniversary, specifically Ubuntu. As you've probably guessed, I have a technical background, but I'm no Unix geek. So its been a painful move. And to be honest, I STILL find it painful!
So why did I move, you ask? Here is why:

  1. Hate viruses! They cause major headaches, unexpected downtimes and sometimes even loss of data
  2. Want reliability. Yes, Windows is far from being rock solid. And was Vista Microsoft's Halloween gift?
  3. Need to take the path less taken. Its a good geeky conversation starter
  4. Been there, done that

And here is how its turned out:

  1. Yep, viruses are a thing of the past. Well are most of the standard apps too. Gotten used to openoffice, and other tools. Disclaimer - I still have windows hidden away in my virtual instance of VMWare.
  2. Neither is desktop Linux. I was looking for 1 year uptimes, or at maximum rebooting once a month. My laptop crashes (mostly coming back from suspend) every other day.
  3. Yep - its definitely the path less taken. Although I dont recall it ever being a conversation starter (like I said, I'm no Unix geek!)
  4. Havent come across too many people with Linux on their laptops!
So in conclusion ....I'm looking to switch to Macbook Pro. I'll get one when my company hits the jackpot or if my friends reading this blog feel like being generous!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Changing the office culture

In my early years of employment, I was once questioned how it felt working for one of the 'best' companies. Ofcourse, the word best being used in an extremely subjective manner. To this my response was its only as good as the manager I report to.

Now I find myself in a position of being the manager's manager, and it hits me - how do the employees feel about working here. I assume its good, after all there is a casual and open door policy maintained but .....
There is no such thing as perfect, and the culture I try to set with my direct reports may not be seeping through or not as quickly as I want. For those of you who like reading books, a good one is Growing Great Employees - Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers. But this book is great for managing direct reports, not changing the overall culture of an organization.

My experience is that its important to have the corporate culture evolved as part of your initiatives (if you're taking on a C level position). Since nothing is perfect, there will be avenues for improvement. With most organizations, the cultures are extremely crude or are different depending on division and groups, and this requires your attention.

Here are a couple of suggestions:
1. Shuffle up entry and mid management after assessing weaknesses and strengths of the managers. Entry and mid level management quickly get comfortable with status quo and thereby facilitate a stale culture. Note: be careful with shuffling, a blind shuffle often causes ruffled feathers and attrition.
2. Get employee survey feedbacks on managers. Make sure employees understand that their feedback will be given anonymously to their managers. The managers should in turn be measured
3. Insert yourself in the hiring process. Hire only the best, but ensure they're good team players. Everyone being hired should know you (assuming you're not a fortune company!), and the corporate vision from day -1.
4. Participate in random team meetings to see how the manager/team chemistry works. This isnt the best place to see it, but its better than not seeing it at all.
5. Regular all hands. For smaller companies, this means having company dinners and intermingling with employees. For larger ones, it means having an offsite etc. This allows all employees to get information direct from the source, which is immensely empowering since its not filtered by his/her manager.

And if you know of any good books on this, I'm all ears!