Naga Chokkanathan

Archive for July 2011

Sometime back, I did a session for our internal team titled “A Million Balls”. This presentation talks about “Purposeful Practice” and is a collection of thoughts from four different books I read in the last few months. Have a look and let me know your comments. Thanks!



N. Chokkan …

22 07 2011


I don’t know about you. But I love waiting. Of course, I hate queues, but waiting is altogether a different matter. You can bring fun into the process of waiting by taking a book with you, wherever you go – whether a wait is expected or not.

Instead of a book, you may use a music player, or a mobile games console, or paint in your iPad, or simply observe people around you. Whatever may be the technique, with the right attitude, wait time can become very rewarding and enjoyable.

Eileen Button’s book "The Waiting Place" is a very unique work, which contains a collection of essays about waiting. She uses various everyday scenarios where we wait, and tries to describe precise experience from those moments.

When you write about waiting, the challenge is, you will have very few ‘characters’ and very little ‘incidents’. You may have to rely on your thought process and capture it in writing with as many details as possible. On the flip side, it may be VERY boring for others.

Eileen doesn’t seem to have this problem at all and describes even the tiniest experience in an enjoyable manner. Me being a fellow-wait-lover, I was able to see myself in the book and love every waiting opportunity. It was a delightful reading experience and I won’t mind reading it again, next time I am waiting on a train station queue!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Few days back I attended a technical seminar. A famous research scientist was supposed to give the keynote speech titled “Information Compromise and the Risk of Identity Theft”

As usual, somebody gave a boring welcome speech and then introduced the keynote speaker. He waved at us and was about to get on stage.

Suddenly, his expression changed (I could see this clearly because I was sitting in the second row!). He started shouting at the person next to him ‘Where is my laptop? I shouldn’t have given it to you useless people. You always misplace it somewhere and I suffer because of your mistake. All the notes for my speech are in that laptop and what the hell I am going to do now?’

Unfortunate for him, everyone in the audience could hear this – his collar mike was ON and he didn’t notice it. For the next couple of minutes, he was cursing everyone around him, using all sorts of insults. We felt very embarrassed because our keynote speaker was giving a not-so-nice speech today.

Luckily, the laptop was located in some corner seat. He went on stage, connected his laptop to the projector and the first slide flashed in big bold characters: “Sorry!”

Our speaker smiled at our reaction and started speaking:

Friends, I apologize for all the drama. I really didn’t lose my laptop, I purposefully gave it to a friend and retrieved it back after few minutes!


I wanted to demonstrate what happens when you unknowingly expose yourself online. In my case, I very well knew that the collar mike was ON and purposefully acted as if I am angry. But what if I was not aware of that? I might have said something which you people are not supposed to hear!

The same is true for all your online interactions – Your Emails, Chats, Searches, Purchases, Facebook, Twitter Messages and so on… you may say something without realizing that others are listening – That’s the security compromise we are going to discuss today!

Of course, he got a standing ovation for this lovely start and went on to deliver an exceptionally good Keynote address. I am sure none of us will ever forget about security compromise / identity theft and we will be a bit extra careful when sending an Email / Chat Message.

That’s the power of drama / story telling. When used in the right time, proper context, right mix, it can make a concept stick forever in the listeners’ minds!



N. Chokkan …

20 07 2011

Last Saturday (July 16, 2011) I presented a session on “Pricing models for android enterprise applications” at Android Camp Bangalore ( Slides of that presentation can be viewed / downloaded here:


N. Chokkan …

18 07 2011

Andrew Klavan’s action and adventure series “The Homelanders” may well be the next publishing sensation – I just completed the last book in this series titled “The Final Hour”.

Charlie West, the teenager hero of all “The Homelanders” novels (The last thing I remember, The Long way home, The truth of the matter and now finally, The final hour) is caught in the middle of a murder / terrorist attack / many other unfortunate things. This series captures the various problems he goes thro’ because of this and how he emerges victorious. Written in a juvenile fiction format, all these four novels are in un-putdown-able category, giving you a thriller-movie-screenplay-ish reading experience.

I started reading Andrew Klavan’s novels based on a friend’s recommendation in twitter. First it looked like a silly exercise, but pretty soon his writing style and twists-n-turns made me a serious reader and follower of all the “Homelanders” novels.

I liked this fourth book better than the others, mainly because lot of loose-ends are getting connected. Happily, it gave me a feeling of completion after almost 1000 pages of reading. (Of course, I will be more than happy if there is another novel in this series, But that’s another matter Winking smile)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Early fifties, Toyota introduced a new concept called “Idea Management System” for its employees. Basically, the management invited new ideas from the staff in all areas – production, marketing, quality, delivery etc., and rewarded the best ones.

In the first year, Toyota employees gave 789 suggestions. Some of them were good, but the majority of the ideas were very average. Worst, many of the employees didn’t share any ideas – Not even one for the whole year. Obviously, those employees thought an ‘idea’ must be a really big innovation. Unless and until it changes the game, it is not worth submitting.

Toyota realized this and started pushing a different message. They encouraged employees to submit any idea they can think of. ‘Keep a pencil with you, Whenever you think of some new way of doing things, Immediately note it down and submit it as an idea. It doesn’t matter how small a change it is, but if you feel something needs to change, you need to raise the voice.’

‘But, some of my ideas will be outright silly!’

‘Doesn’t matter. Here, quantity is more important than quality’ the management said, ‘if you submit 10 idea in an year, one of them will be good, we will implement it and the whole company will benefit from it.’

Slowly, the ideas started flowing. In the next 40 years, Toyota was able to generate 20 Million Ideas – all from their own staff. Many of those ideas were implemented and saved billions of dollars to the company, enhanced employee satisfaction, product quality and so on.,

Toyota didn’t invent “Idea Management System”. When they launched it in 1951, the same concept was being followed by many American companies. In fact, Senior managers from Toyota observed a Ford manufacturing plant in USA and decided to try it in their own factories. Half a century later, they are the ones who benefited the most from listening to employees’ ideas. No other external consultant could have given them these many realistic ideas!

Even today, “Toyota Idea Factory” is a very important case study for management students. It encourages all sorts of people – from assembly line workers to CXOs – to keep an idea notebook and a pencil in hand always. Just to make sure we don’t lose a great revolutionary idea!



N. Chokkan …

12 07 2011


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Organization He works for / belongs to.

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