Thu 31 Jul 2008

 

1. At the movies: When you meet acquaintances/ friends
Stupid Question:-Hey, what are you doing here?
Answer:-Well, it's so hot , there were no cool cabs so I thought i'd watch some advertisements in the cool comfort of the theatre.


2. In the bus: A fat girl wearing pointed high-heeled shoes steps on your feet
Stupid Question:-Sorry, did that hurt?
Answer:-No, not at all, I'm on local anesthesia.. ...why don't you try again or should i try this time."


3. At a funeral: One of the teary-eyed people ask
Stupid Question:-Why, why him, of all people.
Answer:-Why? Would it rather have been you?


4. At a restaurant: When you ask the waiter
Stupid Question:-Is the "blah blah blah" dish good
Answer:-No, it’s terrible and made of contaminated cement. We occasionally also spit in it.


5. At a family get-together. When some distant aunt
meets you after years
Stupid Question:-Munna, Chickoo, you've become so big.
Answer:-Well you haven't particularly shrunk yourself.



6. When a friend announces her wedding, and you ask
Stupid Question:-Is the guy you're marrying good?
Answer:-No, he' s a miserable wife-beating , insensitive lout...it's just the money.


7. When you get woken up at midnight by a phone call
Stupid Question:-Sorry. were you sleeping.
Answer:-No. I was playing cricket for India at Sharjah and just when you called Salim Malik was betting with me that Pakistan would win. What do you think?


8. When you see a friend/colleague with evidently shorter hair
Stupid Question:-Hey have you had a haircut?
Answer:-No, it’s autumn and I'm shedding.... ..


9. At the dentist when he's sticking pointed objects in your mouth
Stupid Question:-Tell me if it hurts?
Answer:-And while I'm telling you , you tell me if I bite.


10. You are smoking a cigarette and someone asks
Stupid Question:-Oh, so you smoke
Answer:-No, it's a miracle ........... it was a chalk and now it's in flames!!!

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Tue 29 Jul 2008

***(Former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam at Wharton India Economic forum, Philadelphia, March 22,2008)*

*Question:* Could you give an example, from your own experience, of how leaders should manage failure?

*Kalam:* Let me tell you about my experience. In 1973 I became the project director of India's satellite launch vehicle program, commonly called the SLV-3. Our goal was to put India's 'Rohini' satellite into orbit by 1980.

I was given funds and human resources -- but was told clearly that by1980 we had to launch the satellite into space. Thousands of people worked together in scientific and technical teams towards that goal.

By 1979 -- I think the month was August -- we thought we were ready. As the project director, I went to the control center for the launch. At four minutes before the satellite launch, the computer began to go through the checklist of items that needed to be checked. One minute later, the computer program put the launch on hold; the display showed that some control components were not in order. My experts -- I had four or five of  them with me -- told me not to worry; they had done their calculations and there was enough reserve fuel. So I bypassed the computer, switched to manual mode, and launched the rocket. In the first stage, everything worked fine. In the second stage, a problem developed. Instead of the satellite going into orbit, the whole rocket system plunged into the Bay of Bengal. It was a big failure.

That day, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, Prof. Sottish Dhawan, had called a press conference. The launch was at 7:00 am, and the press conference -- where journalists from around the world were present -- was at 7:45 am at ISRO's satellite launch range in Sriharikota [in Andhra Pradesh in southern India]. Prof. Dhawan, the leader of the organization, conducted the press conference himself. He took responsibility for the failure -- he said that the team had worked very hard, but that it needed more technological support. He assured the media that in another year, the team would definitely succeed. Now, I was the project director, and it was my failure, but instead, he took  responsibility for the failure as chairman of the organization.

The next year, in July 1980, we tried again to launch the satellite -- and this time we succeeded. The whole nation was jubilant. Again, there  was a press conference. Prof. Dhawan called me aside and told me, 'You conduct the press conference today.'

I learned a very important lesson that day. When failure occurred, the leader of the organization owned that failure. When success came, he gave it to his team. The best management lesson I have learned did not come to me from reading a book; it came from that experience.

 

Categories : Thoughts / Lessons
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