Sunday, January 29, 2012

The problem with experience

Most people, confuse “experience” with “number of years employed”. Wikitionary's definition of experience goes something like this - “Collection of events and/or activities from which an individual or group may gather knowledge, opinions, and skills”. The key is – experience contributes to knowledge, opinion or skills. Nowhere does experience indicate the number of years spent on job.

Experience vs Time spent

We can plot number of years employed against knowledge on a graph. As long as you are “employed” (even on bench, vacation or surfing) you continuously progress along the  X time axis. When one insists on experience, it is somehow assumed that experience = time spent on job (x=y) kind of an equation.

But is that really true? Did you learn or gain more knowledge in your last year than the year before? If you have been working for a long time already now, just sit back and think about the increase in your knowledge that happened in the first year of your job. Thereafter think about the increments every year.

If you have been doing the same job (but growing in time and consequently in positions) chances are, your knowledge level has more or less stabilised. What you are essential gaining on is the time axis.

Its funny when customers insist on having “experienced” consultants with an arbitrary number like 10+ years of industry experience without getting into the details of “what” that experience really is. I could have been doing a menial job in an “industry” for 10 years without gaining any incremental knowledge whatsoever.

The only way that you might be gaining knowledge out of your experience is if you have been profile hopping. This phenomenon occurs when you completely change your job profile every 2-3 years so that you have to actually learn completely new things to do your job. Most companies don’t encourage such kind of hopping, and if you have been lucky enough to do it, then you have “experience” in the true sense of the word!

So as recruiters or customers going forward, please don’t insist on experience in terms of number of years spent on job, but please look at what the person has done and “experienced”!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

School buses

School buses in India have been getting a lot of media attention lately. Maybe because of the recent spurt in the increase in accidents involving those buses or maybe life has become that much more valuable in India now. So the Supreme Court came up with a few well intentioned directives. Some of them should have been in place a long time ago. Things like – safe seat layouts, storage racks, emergency exits, speed governors and stopping signals.

Everything great so far. But the school bus operators interpreted those directives in their own sweet ways and now we have some funny results. To start with, most school buses in India are on contract. What that means is – the same buses that ferry people to their offices in the morning double up as school buses during the day. They then are hired for company picnics and other events for the weekend. What that essentially means is – every private bus on the roads in Mumbai is essentially a school bus.

Now one of the directives says that – school buses should identify themselves as one! So now almost all buses on the roads of Mumbai have a sticker on their back indicating that they are “On School and Comp Duty”. I presume Comp is a shortened – company. So that sticker doesn’t indicate anything. It just says that if there are kids inside we are ferrying them to school (India doesn’t allow child labour with exceptions) and if there are grown-ups these people are off to work.

On School and Comp. Duty

One of the other directives is about proper graphics. The rule says that there must be a readily identifiable graphic on the bus to indicate that it carries children. The proposed symbol I believe was the one shown below.

School Bus Insignia

But some of our bus operators probably found it to be too boring and then they came up with this one. its colourful, shows happy faces and indicates that its a school bus.

Multi-cultural School Students

Now the person who made that graphic, probably downloaded a stock photo off the internet. The irony of that image is – there is no Indian child in that picture. Its a politically correct image representing a child from each continent. So the first gal can pass off as a representative of the South American continent. The second can represent North America, Europe and Australia. The third gal is there to represent all of us Asians and the fourth kid is an African. The fifth guy probably is there to represent Antarctica as a continent (I can’t seem to place him in Asia and Africa and the gal already represents the other continents).

Finally, some innovative operators thought they would sound important by putting a warning “Drive slowly, school kids on-board” behind. What they failed to realize is that some of the craziest drivers on the road are none other than these people themselves! So the buses go fast and wild all the while warning slower people behind them to drive slower! If anything, these warnings should have been put in front of the bus driver’s own face.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Complete service!

This is a post about restrooms again. Not disgusting like my earlier ones. But yeah, toilet post none the less.

Have been trying out elite eating places in Mumbai these days. With India’s inflation shooting up like crazy, prices every where keep going up everyday. Combined with service charges and all types of other creative taxes our Government keeps coming up with, eating out at decent places is a luxury in Mumbai already.

Now for those of you who don’t know, Indians prefer eating food with their bare hands, which means we do not rely on cutlery like spoons, fork and chopsticks while having our famed breads (The naan!). Which also means that we have to wash our hands before eating requiring us to visit washrooms in every restaurant we go.

An interesting phenomenon I have noticed is – most restaurants in India completely neglect the cleanliness of restrooms. Now, considering that almost all of us visit these places, and since elite places are elite because they are expected to maintain a certain level of internal decor and hygiene, I am baffled by the fact that such restaurant’s management chooses to ignore washrooms.

If I ever become a food critic in my life, I am gonna rate these guys on the basis of their cleanliness as well. You can’t charge me a bomb just because you “pose” to be elite! (Yeah I am a disgruntled customer ranting online!)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Flower power

Some smart-pant MBAs in the detergent manufacturing companies in India figured out (quite obviously) that women decide (dictate would be a better word) detergent purchases in India. So to further appeal their target customers they decided to make their detergents have a flowery fragrance. Now every detergent powder in India has fragrances like – Jasmine, Rose and Water lily.

First they made us have room fresheners of flowery fragrances, then they captured our hand washes, and finally our clothes! My mom happily bought a huge pack of jasmine scented detergent, and now everything in our house (I am talking besides the room fresheners and the hand washes!) smells of jasmine. Not only my bed sheets and curtains but even my shirts and trousers. Imagine a macho guy like me (yeah, pun intended!) walking into the big bad world smelling like some flowers. Not only does it hurt my image, but also it makes me smell like a sissy.

Luckily for me, since all purchasing decisions in India are done by the women of the house, I have realized that all my guy colleagues these days smell of – (you guessed it right!) Jasmine, Lily and Roses.

Anyways, I decided to take things into my own hands, and I went to a departmental store, and picked up a “premium” non-scented detergent fricking powder! Yeah the scene looked like a Clint Eastwood movie, especially the – me opening the door and walking into the mall part. Beyond that I meekly paid the cashier and walked off with my prized detergent. So much for a male dominated society! Huh!

Go ahead, make my day!