Monday, October 23, 2006
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How grammatically correct are you? (Revised with answer key)
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!
Congratulations! If your mission in life is not already to preserve the English tongue, it should be. You can smell a grammatical inaccuracy from fifty yards. Your speech is revered by the underlings, though some may blaspheme and call you a snob. They're just jealous. Go out there and change the world.
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Friday, October 13, 2006
When I used to work at a software company, meetings were held for obnoxious lengths of time (I've heard that this is true for a lot of compnaies). They used to take up the better part of atleast a couple of hours. By the end of the meeting, the participants would be in confusion as to what the agenda was and what was finally discussed. One easily attributable reason to this was the 'free time'! Managers thought that their underlings' time was free whenever they asked for it. And the underlings could hardly question their managers if the meeting was justified when they had a truck load of work to complete by end of day. (Another small digression here: end of day was interpreted by the managers as end of the sidereal day, i.e., at midnight whereas the programmers rightly thought it was at 5PM! Result ? Programmers often eneded up staying back after-hours to complete their work and the managers would leave for home after their marathon meetings.)
Now, let us make a small study about the necessities for holding a meeting. Meetings are usually required for KT (Knowledge Transfer, that was the parlance in my office!), taking the employee to task, plan out some work, etc. However, no one knew how long the meeting shoud go on. It was all left to the whims and fancies of the managers or team leads. Our meetings probably were like the way the manager in Dilbert starts off:
"There is no specific agenda for this meeting. As usual, we'll just make unrelated emotional statements about things which bother us…"Recently, I saw an article about meetings in the GoogleWorld. Wow... It is not just the results of the company that is fascinating people but even the way they work! I have gotten email forwards showing images of Google offices, mails about their free food program, entertainment divisions, movies, etc. And now the meetings. A ticking stopwatch shows that the meeting should end before the stopwatch ticks down to zero. This helps keep the meeting organized and avoids unnecessary personal interactions and digressions. And the exclusivity of the manager and the difficulty of obtaining a meeting slot definitely helps!
Take the case of EasyJet when they just started. They had only stand-up meetings - no chairs in the meeting room, only a desk. They found that meetings which took 2-3 hours took only 11 minutes in this setup! No one wants to sit and pontificate in this environment.
Update: Now, I have started liking meetings in the academia. Professors are usually extremely busy and very averse to wasting time listening to stories in meetings. Meetings are usually crisp, just discussing research and technical problems, trying to brainstorm solutions, presenting results, etc.