Sunday, April 20, 2008

Value (for money) Lanes - A perfect team outing!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are purely personal and does not reflect the views of the organization I work with. I have made a sincere attempt to collate all the learning I picked up during our team outing. For most part of this post the pics are gonna do the talking while its author hunts frivolously for those charming one liners!

Ever since I joined this wonderful team, I was looking for an opportunity to know my team members and understand them better. The opportunity finally presented itself in the form of a team outing to Value Lanes on 16th April 2008.

On your mark @ MTV Banashankari - (6:35 am - 6:50 am)

We were asked to assemble at MTV at sharp 6:35 am. But people kept trickling until 6:45 am. We finally pushed at 5 minutes to 7 am. Everyone appeared really excited and all set to have a gala time. Little did they know that value lanes wasn't a resort!

Did someone really say "smile please!" I can't quite recall...

Did they know that it wasn't gonna be a joy ride altogether?

Ek Do Teen and wheels went rolling... (7 am - 8:45 am)

The bus we had hired was a 20 seater and was almost jam packed with excited souls. The driver gave the journey just the perfect start by playing some really good songs from the movie Gaalipata. The title track for sure left everyone enthused and geared up. After a while we all decided to play dumb charades. It was funny to see people at their creative best trying intemperately to convey the name of the movie. How can I forget my own desperate attempt to convey the word 'life' of the movie 'Life is beautiful'? It was simply superb!

Value Lanes ki daire main: (9:00 am)

We finally reached our dream destination at around 9:00 am. We were pretty hungry. Col Arun Dhar and Major Vibhav Kapoor received our team. The weather showed all signs of being unmerciful for the rest of the day. What seemed to be yet another bright and sunny day, was soon gonna show us true colours of a typical day in summer! After serving themselves with the morning breakfast and nimbu pani/ tea/ coffee, everyone relaxed in the shade for a while.

Ah! You guys got a challenging day ahead. So you better buckup!

Thodi si briefing and thodi si sneak peeking! (10:00 am - 10:30 am)

Soon after assembling at the specified venue for an introduction, we were given our chest numbers and a cap! Then we were split into 2 teams. Major Vaibhav Kapoor asked for two volunteers to lead the first event of the day. Venkat and Abhilash came forward to volunteer. They went with major Vaibhav Kapoor for a briefing on the first task. In the meanwhile Arun Dhar shared with us the story of how Value Lanes was conceived and also the success story of various organizations who were benefited by this corporate Training and Development venture of theirs. After 20 minutes, Venkat and Abhilash came back with Vaibhav Kapoor. They seemed very eager to explain to the team what the first challenge was. Arun Dhar left us with the task of discovering one fact about each team member which no one in the team knew about.

Dynamic Obstacle Course (DOC) : (10:30 am - 11:40 am)

Our first task of the day! All we had to do was to move a bucket of water from one end of the course to another by overcoming the dynamic obstacles. Both the teams agreed to complete the task in 45 minutes. The record time was 33 minutes. After planning and building a killer strategy for 10 minutes, we were all set to rock. We finally got going when Vaibhav Kapoor blew the whistle. The task seemed to be a child's play in the beginning. It was only after the actual execution began, we realized how over confident we were. After grappling really hard with time and resources we had, we only managed to complete the task half way. Even though we had asked for an extra time of 25 minutes, we weren't able to complete the DOC challenge completely!

Key takeaways from the exercise:
  • Plan while you plan and execute while you execute. Don't mix them up!
  • Always make notes while gathering the requirements. Don't rely only on your memory power.
  • A great leader is one who can bring the best out of every team member.
  • Situational leadership is the sign of a healthy team. Don't curb it.
  • Avoid resource idle time.
  • Even the best laid plans fail. Always have a plan B.
  • After a failure it is extremely essential to do a route cause analysis.
  • Make the best use of the most important resource you have. The human resource!
Time for some feedback and not to forget The Johari Window: (11:45 am - 1:10 pm)

After finishing the first task of the day, it was time for some analysis. We were all eager to know how we had fared in the challenge. Dhamu and Vaibhav Kapoor shared their observations with us and gave us some valuable feed backs. After that Major Vaibhav Kapoor briefed us about how to give and receive a feedback. A few things about feed back.

Key points on giving a feed back:
  • Give a feed back only if the other person wants it.
  • Validate your feed back with immaculate data and specificity.
  • Convey the impact the current behavior on you.
  • Avoid sounding advisory in tone.
  • Never give feed backs in public. They should always be given one to one.
  • A feed back can also be positive!
  • For heaven's sake avoid passing judgments while giving a feed back.
Key points on receiving a feed back:
  • Receive a feed back with an open mind.
  • Never take comments made in the feed back personally.
  • Look for patterns in the feed back. May be you might have a grey area that needs an urgent attention.
  • Always look for the source from where the feed back is coming. If you feel it is genuine, then go ahead and work on it!
We all know that every team invariably involves a great resource called human resource. It becomes essential to deal with this valuable resource with utmost care and diligence. Having an insight on a resourceful tool like 'The Johari Window' really helps.

Johari Window - A cognitive psychological tool
Lunch Break: (1:15 pm - 2:00 pm)

After what can be arguably described as an excruciating first half, we all deserved a good lunch. So we hurried towards our rooms to freshen up a bit and off we went to serve ourselves an awaiting jeuner. After relishing the luncheon, I had a couple of glasses of nimbu pani. I must confess at this point in time. I never had these many glasses of nimbu pani in a single day. (Nope! Not even on ram navamis...)

Keyboard: (2:10 pm - 3:00 pm)

Post lunch session promised to be more 'hot' and 'happening'. We were again divided into 3 teams. Three from each team viz. Deb, Laxmi and Vidhya volunteered to lead this event. They were briefed quite in detail by Vaibhav Kapoor. After gathering the requirements, each of the team leads went back to their teams to explain the task.

The task assigned involved punching 40 cards (serially numbered from 1-40, without duplicates) sequentially in 30 seconds. A warning whistle would be blown at the end of 25th second after which the teams would be expected to evacuate the place, failing which entitles them for a disqualification. After 3 attempts, we were able to punch a maximum of 19 cards. The other teams managed to punch up to 25 cards. But one good thing about each team was they improved after every attempt. In the end the three teams entered the place together and managed to punch about 33 cards in 30 seconds!

Key takeaways from the exercise:
  • Meticulous planning always helps. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
  • Divide the task in to sub tasks so that you get tangible touch points to quantify your goal.
    Managing the time and resources at disposal is quintessential for the ssuccessof any project.
Rapelling - When I bid farewell to the acrophobic in me. (3:30 pm t0 4:45 pm)

In this task, each one of us would be rappelling from a height of 65-70 feet. This activity mainly aimed at building your self confidence. It was an extremely good exercise which helped everyone to discover the unknown adventurer in all of us. Okies... The pics will do the rest of the talking!

After that, there was no looking back...

Joy - The satisfaction of a job well done :-)

Key takeaways from the exercise:
  • Every task seems big and daunting in the beginning. It is only when you get into it, that you discover that it is do-able.
  • Everyone enjoys to be in the comfort zone. But it takes a hell lot of courage to step out of it and perform in zones of discomfort as well.
  • Joy is best described as the satisfaction of a job well done :-)
Rafting in manchinbele lake - (5:00 pm - 6:15 pm)

This was allegedly the last challenge we had to complete. We were divided into 2 teams and each team was asked to present the design of their raft in 10 minutes. Our team lead by Suhas and the other team lead by Parthipan submitted the design within the specified time.

After the final approval from major, we went ahead with the actual task of building the raft, which was allotted a time slot of 25 minutes. Our team (Mermaids) built it in 24:14 minutes. The other team (Columbia) built the raft in 24:32 minutes.

Major finally blew the whistle indicating the beginning of the challenge. The rafts were carefully guided in to the luke warm waters of Manchinbele lake. We had awesome fun rowing the rafts built by us. Both the teams completed the task satisfactorily. It was a thrilling experience to row the the raft.

Rafting - Columbia v/s Mermaids (trailing)

Yep! We did it :-) Koi hain jo humse takkar lena chahega?

Key takeaways from the exercise:
  • Trust your team members. It can work wonders.
  • Give your best shot in what you are assigned. The rest will fall in place.
  • Always try to minimize the resource idle time.
Time to windup: (6:40 pm - 7:15 pm)

After serving ourselves with some snacks, we assembled back at the place where we had begun the day. Arun and Vaibhav summed up the days learning. Dhamu shared with us his observations during the raft building activity. He was as articulate as ever. After that the teams were asked to jot down what they would take back as a learning and implement them at their work place. Every team explained in brief the key take aways from this team outing.

But one task was still left over. It was the task of discovering a fact about your teammate that no one in the team knew about. Arun gently reminded us the task and asked us to complete it on our way back home. With heavy hearts and mind full of learning, we left the place at aapproximately7:30 pm.

On the way back, each one in the team shared with the rest, a fact that no one knew about them. I must say that it provided just the perfect ending to a great day. I got to know my team members from really close quarters! Thanks a lot to the c2 team for organizing such a wonderful outbound learning activity.

PS: Ma'm was absolutely right when she had mentioned during our previous outbound learning activity; it is during team outings that people shed their so called 'concious IT sheaths' and show their real self. I, for one tried to be so! Hope the same happened with others as well.

~IT's My Life

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What keeps me motivated?

It is so unlikely of me. Anyone who has known me from my engineering days and who happens to read this post of mine would say, "Sala is ko kya hua hai yaar. Ab kisko patane chal hai?" I don't blame them. All throughout my engineering career, I was known more for being involved in stuff like debate, seminar and etc etc... I was the last person you would find on the ground, playing any sport. You definitely had to pull a trick or two to convince me to 'sweat out' on the field. I dunno why I kept myself away from playing any kind of sport? It leaves me baffled when I look back at those 4 years of engineering. Gosh! I never played any sport.

I told myself, "Enough is enough! Bahut hogaya nautanki. I gotta do something about this." I really wanted to revamp my lifestyle. That was when I decided to get started. I needed to ensure that my stint wasn't ephemeral and I kept it alive for the rest of my life (I am optimist. That explains my claims!). So I spoke with a couple of my friends (G and V) and enquired if I could find a badminton court to play. Apparently G is also crazy about playing badminton. I finally managed to find a court near my room. You know badminton is relatively a costly hobby to pursue in bangalore. But since we found an outdoor court, problem khatam!

I also needed to get myself back in shape. Not that I had begun to look like a watermelon or something similar. But I needed to aquire what people often say, "You need to be fit in order to play badminton yaar!" So I decided to hit the gym. Fortunately there is this gym close to my room. It didn't take me long to make up my mind and I absolutely had no second thoughts about my new venture. It was in the first week of february I guess that I gave my first (ever) entry in to the gym. It takes a decent amount of determination to beat the laziness in you and drag yourself to the gym. It is a challenge of a sort when an idea such as this strikes you during winter! But I was not gonna give up. I also wanted to make sure that I wouldn't try any weights in the gym. I somehow can't come to terms with the guys who believe in 'pumping iron' really hard to become a macho-man! My focus was to reduce some unsaturated fats in my body and get back to shape at the earliest. You really got to be very clear as to what you wish to achieve by 'gymming'! A battle well begun is half won:)

My routine basically involves a few stretches, followed by a decent jog on the tread mill (or an occasional cycling) and then a few other fitness excercies. I have experminted more with the tread than any other equipment in the gym. I would like to share with you some of my typical routines that I have been following till date. They say that your workout on tread mill must roughly follow a pyramid shape when you represent it in terms of time slices/distances. The following two routines is what I have been following mostly. I have swapped them quite frequently, mostly on occasions when one seemed monotonous.

Routine 1:

Activity - jogging on the treadmill

Total time - 25-30 min approximately
Total distance covered - 3.4 km approx
Total calories burnt - 200 kcal

Speed - Distance

  • 4km/hr - 100m
  • 5km/hr - 500m
  • 6km/hr - 600m
  • 7km/hr - 300m
  • 8km/hr - 500m
  • 9km/hr - 500m
  • 10km/hr - 300m
  • 11km/hr - 150m
  • 12 km/hr - 150m
  • 6km/hr - 300km

Routine 2:
Total calories burt - 250 Kcal

Activity 1- Cycling

Total time - 15-20 min approx
Total distance covered - 8 km
Total calories burnt - 100 kcal approx
Average speed - 25-27 km/hr

Activity2 - jogging on treadmill

Total time - 20-25 min approx
Total distance covered - 2.5 km approx
Total calories burnt - 150 kcal

Speed - Distance
  • 4km/hr - 100m
  • 5km/hr - 500m
  • 6km/hr - 600m
  • 7km/hr - 300m
  • 8km/hr - 500m
  • 9km/hr - 250m
  • 10km/hr - 150m
  • 6km/hr - 100m

You can also try out other combinations on the tread mill. I have chosen distance as the parameter of break up. You can chose time slots and work out at these speeds for selected time intervals.

You might have begun to think by now. Doesn't this routine get monotonous after sometime? My answer is yes! Wouldn't you feel bored eating the same food over and over again? When that happens what do you do? You would naturally opt for a change. That is exactly what I did too. When a routine gets mundane, change it!

A few things that might help you keep your motvation levels high.
  1. Always have your expectations realistic. Don't rush in to things and hope that you will lose 20kgs in 20 days or so. Your body took sometime to add on weight. So it will defintely take some time to get rid of it as well.
  2. It is always good to give yourself a day or two off from your regular routine, just to ensure you escape that monotonicity. You might choose to go for a walk in the park or play you favorite sport like badminton or cricket during weekends.
  3. For heaven's sake don't make this 'going-to-gym' activity a pain in the a**. Trust me you will start to hate it after some time. Learn to make it more enjoyable venture such that you would look forward to hitting the gym in full spirits everyday.
  4. Last but not the least, stop comparing yourself with others in the gym. It is very easy to get carried away by somebody's routine. If you know what you want at the end of the day, I am sure you will have more 'satisfaction' and your 'energy levels' will never drop.
I hope I have shared my experiences to the fullest. As far as I am concerned, I find myself totally benefitted by this new hobby or lifestyle, whatever you wish to call. I just hope to hang on to it as long as I can

~IT's My Life

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Times of Mind - Subroto Bagchi speaks

I happened to visit MindTree's official site. As I was navigating through various links, I clicked this link under knowledge center where Subroto Bagchi shares with us some of the valuable learnings of his life. Read on...

~IT's My Life

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Challenging yourself...

Forget about challenging others. Have you ever challenged yourself? When was the last time you told yourself, "Look I don't care what others are aiming at. I just wanna achieve this within this particular period of time." For a long time I seemed to have forgotten the real fun one gets by challenging oneself. I think an opportunity has unfolded itself in front of me. Work place main nayi challenges! I'm loving it. It is surely pushing me to my limits. I am infact discovering how far I can stretch. Trust me. It is difficult to win over yourself than winning over others!

I watched the movie 'Race' the other night. I liked a quote which roughly reads, "Winners win because they play to win. Losers lose because they play to defeat others." Many a time the intensity and the appropriacy of purpose with which you enter the arena matters a lot in ensuring your victory!

Well I surely seem to have gotten both of them straight and clear. Let's see if I can live up to my challenges.

PS: By the way my stint of hitting the gym is still on. It has been over 2 months now. I am enjoying it to the core. My motivation levels are pretty much the same as they were on day 1. I shall share my experiences about the same shortly.

~IT's My Life

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