Earthen pots + fire woods = Fish curry ++

Delicious fish curry is cooked in earthen pots, using fire wood. It is simple and there is nothing to replace it yet, when the only criteria is the taste of the curry. Similarly, is there any replacement for the good old yellow stickies and the white board. I do not think so. In a distributed development scenario, a tool usage may be inevitable, but do not replace the good old tracking board with automated stuff. Capture the data from the tracking board, and enter it to the collaboration tool, for the usage of all other stakeholders. Simplicity of the conventional modes can make your product average or exemplary. Some tools will kill your product. Recently I saw some tools where the definition of done is ‘ready for testing’. Bull shit of the first order. Nobody knows when this product is going to get released :-). I have had the experience of another team, who kept their tracking board within a meeting room and physically locked the room, to be opened prior to the next day’s scrum :-). Transparency under lock and key :-). The key aspect in maintaining true agility is keeping things simple and not stupid.

Here is a fish curry in the making. Canon 550D, 50 MM, 1.2f

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Casual to ‘no compromise’

A casual approach to work will never result in exemplary outcomes. This is very true in photography. Like the Mobile phone or internet addictions, I have reached a stage where if I do not have access to a camera, then I get restless. Is it because I missed out some great opportunities to click, because I did not have a camera with me?, no, never, I am unable to recollect even one incident to justify it. It is just an anxiety of missing out some potentially great opportunity, which may or may not arise. My experience shows that unless one puts in one hundred percentage into a photograph, it is going to be mediocre. A casual approach to serious photography will not work. Here was a great opportunity, which gave me mediocre results because of my casual approach to photography.

We were driving on the suburban roads of kochi city to avoid the peak hour traffic jams on the main road. We drove into this beautiful view of the sunset behind a fertiliser factory polluting the whole area. In the fore ground there were vehicles plying, so it was a great opportunity for a slow shutter speed photograph, with red and white streams of light in the foreground, followed by the factory and it’s chimneys, and the red sunset in the background. At that moment, I did not want to mount the camera on the tripod, and ended up with a hand held shot, resulting in this mediocre outcome. I will be going there again, to get that perfect shot. One great lesson for me is, if you have to cross the boarder between amateurism and professionalism, then one has to get out of the casual approach to a no compromise approach, else, the end product will be inferior. This fact is applicable to all spheres of professional work.

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Blame it on poor judgment

Today was the much awaited brahmachari oath day of my friend’s son Suryanarayana. So far I never attended a similar event in the past. Even though I was down with fever, I mustered enough energy to pack my canon 550d, tokina wide angle to take a couple of shots of the traditionally rich environments. I took my lumix fz200 to capitalize it’s low light capabilities expecting vivid plays of shades as the Hindu ceremonies are rich with fire and smoke. When I reached the venue it was a modern building and stage was brightly lit, denying every opportunity for shadow effect. The canon was handling the situation better and unfortunately I had only the wide angle lens with very little zooming capabilities. A reality check would have helped. Atleast I should have carried the canon zoom lens also with me. Will this fall under risk response planning and contingency planning?. However it is a missed opportunity. I will never make the same mistake again. Here is a reasonably good photograph from the ceremony.

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Chameleon effect

Mimicking others behaviour, that is what is written in Wikipedia for ‘chameleon effect’. During one of my agile workshops we were discussing about different cultures, and one of the participants who represented young India, asked me this fully loaded question, ‘Aby, when I travel to another country, or when I have to deal with customers from foreign lands, my organisation teaches me their culture and language. As per my country’s culture, guest is God. No body is teaching them this. Is it because we do not take pride in our own culture?’. ‘Aby, you do not speak neither British English nor American English’, that was a feedback for me after another scrum workshop. How can I speak British or American English. My parents are from India. I have never travelled to these countries yet, forget about living there for longer time. I feel at home, at home. How can a person like this speak English like them. In India, every state has a separate language. I am yet to see any of my foreign friends speaking even one sentence of Hindi fluently. Very often we waste our lives by trying to be somebody else. Recently my nephew who spent more than a decade in a foreign land told me that the citizens of that country respects him more when he lives like an Indian, following the Indian values and culture. If one keeps changing colours frequently trying to impress others, what will be the plight of that person after a while?. You are unique. Be proud of it. Understand other’s culture for the purpose of not offending anybody knowingly, but not to become like them. Even if you try, you will fail miserably. Self respect is a prelude to mutual respect. My friend Krishnakumar is on an American tour, and hopefully he will come back as Krishnakumar, not as Krish 🙂

Here is the chameleon I photographed today evening, with my lumix fz200. Access to a camera always help. We do not know when an opportunity will strike. Be ready always, that is the mantra. Hope you will like this one 🙂

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Networking

One of the key tools for identifying the right human resources for your project is through networking. One has to reach out to the places where talent is available. Very often we will not find them in job sites. One of the key qualities of successful sales professionals is networking. They have contacts every where, which is built over a period of time at the golf grounds or rugby fields or while trekking or while travelling. Successful managers also inherit this trait of reaching out to others and establishing reliable contacts over a period of time. As per the project management body of knowledge, 90 percentage of the project manager’s time goes into communication. This is very much true. As humans, with who do we communicate the most?. I always love to communicate with the people whom I like. I do not like to communicate with people whom I do not like. So, ultimately what is that key quality required to become a successful manager?. One must like people. The manager must realise that he is only as good as his team. This is a fact of managerial life. If the team do not like the manager, the easiest solution is to change the manager. If the manager do not like the team, still the easiest solution is to change the manager. So, contrary to the conventional thinking, a manager is terribly dependent on his team. When people introduce them selves as ‘I manage a team of ten’ then inside me, I just laugh, because actually a team of ten is managing him. In order to build a great team, one must constantly reach out to talented people

When I composed this photograph last week using my lumix fz200 camera, the word which rhymed in my mind was ‘reach out’. Hope you are enjoying. Good day.

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Maslow’s applied to photographers

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When I started to photograph using an Agfa click3 film camera, there was no profound thinking behind it. It was just meeting the need to take some photographs at my will. The need was very basic (in fact, at that time I could afford only that). I wanted to take the photographs of my newborn baby. It was all about meeting the basic needs of photography. Then we moved on to security zone. Wanted a fool proof system, and that is when I moved on to my first slr a yashica, fully manual, and it is still in working condition. That is the time I realised the fact that once you are a photographer, then you are always a photographer, and I invested more a bought my first digital camera, a Kodak. Throughout all these stages, my photography was on a continuous improvement trip and slowly I had a reputation to maintain. Now I realise that I was entering the ‘self esteem’ zone. After that started the soul searching to understand the purpose of my photography…..Am I at the self actualisation stage of a photographer?….just wondering about it.

Am I being very idealistic here. Did I buy by slr or DSLR for the joy of owning it (esteem needs) to tell the world that I own a DSLR. I think that is more honest. Then I did all sorts of blunders with it, because I did not know anything about photography. I have even used circular polarising filters in low light conditions without a tripod…since the investment was not small, I did not feel like getting out of photography, so I latched on to it, and learned photography technique by technique. So, in another sense, everything started with self esteem, and then moved on to the self actualisation…which is all about finding a larger purpose and meaning to photography…

The first paragraph is for those who want to understand Maslows hierarchy of needs and the second paragraph is for those who want to understand the photographer’s hierarchy of needs 🙂

Here is a photograph for you.

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Lumix fz200, f2.8, vivid, Kerala, India