Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Honda Design Philosophy: What we can learn

One of the world’s most successful car companies: Honda.

The lessons that one can learn from such a success are innumerable! Here, I would like to highlight their design philosophy and how it can help us in our work.

It is the design which lifts up the imperfect to something attractive or beautiful. In addition, true design means a design which perfectly satisfies the need for practicality.
-Shoichiro Honda, 1977

Many a times the requirements that we get are imperfect and vague. The customer is sometimes not even in a position to define what is required. It is up to us how we design the business case, the technical architecture, the user interfaces and bring out the best value possible. But, we should not forget the practicality of the solution. Nonetheless, the practicality may not be understood by all, therefore, it is our responsibility to keep it in high priority.

Design has to be a symphony for our eyes. Individual positions must be designed one by one while maintaining a good overall balance. Having said that, if we worry too much about overall balance, there is a risk of making it a please-everyone design with no unique characteristics.
-Shoichiro Honda, 1977

We can re-phrase the line to, “Design should be a symphony to our senses”. The way we work and the work we do should give us a good feeling. Even a simple work such a making a ppt is sometimes ignored by many. We should realize that every small step towards a project builds up the image in the customer’s perspective. Hence, every detail should be designed well to maintain an overall balance. It is important to note that our objective should not be to get a please-everyone design but to get a good overall balance while giving attention to details.

Man Maximum, Machine Minimum

How many times, we notice that we depend a lot on jargons and technical terms. These jargons and technical terms are no more than machine parts for us. They are necessary but not in excess. In the end we should ask, have we conveyed our idea to the consumer? A consumer for a BA can be the technical lead or programmer. A consumer for a consultant can be the client. A consumer for a UI lead can be the end user.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Marching towards extinction

"Only 1411 left"

When we saw this, we all wondered what was it all about. And then we were enlightened that India is left with just 1411 tigers, and if we don't do anything about it, then in some time, we will be able to see them only in photos and videos.

The long Christmas weekend was enlightening for me as it brought such thoughts to my mind. There was just a small difference, I was not thinking about tigers, rather, I was thinking about Bachelors. The species of bachelors are being eliminated at such a rapid pace that by the end of 2011, I don't think there will be a single one left.

This year the most tragic month was November. Every single day, my hand used to shiver when opening my FB account. One or the other mutilation story was up there. There were nightmares of a world without Bachelors. What will the world look like?!

Interestingly, the world  around disguises itself to make us feel better. In one of the discs, there were a good number of "Bachelorettes". But as one inched closer to them the ever honoured Sindoor nicely touched up by the make up was in your face. I could see a live example of how Lakshmanrekha would work on Bachelors. There is no better repellent that a simple vermilion.But my full sympathies go for the species of my kind. Where else do we go?

The few of the kind left in this wilderness, find no peace on the weekends. They wander about in shopping malls, movie halls, FB, gtalk or they huddle around in closed group booze parties. They keep away from their phones and never think about going homes to see their parents. They know that they will be slaughtered at the first sight! They keep hearing news that another relative came down with a proposal from a neighbor. When they call back home, out of guilt for not calling for long, only one line gets repeated invariably every time:

"अब तो तू settle हो गया है | लड़की देखना शुरू करें ?"
("Now that you are settled, shall we look for a bride?")

They worry about what will happen if they agree to lie on the deathbed. They ask around in hushed tones.
"How is the married life? How is it going?"
And they get the answers in even more toned down voices,
"Everything is great man!" (As if We don't know!)
"Life is good. We went to @$$%$#& and had loads of fun!" (Ya ya, no daru, no ladki. You have always been a naturalist!)

And then they give us the impression that they are really enjoying their life. So, just as old friends we invite them over a party on weekend. And as usual we get the replies of why not, see you over the weekend! But friends change a lot.....

On Saturday morning you get the msg: "Not possible, got some work"

So, on monday morning on a gtalk chat you ask what happened and you get the reply:
"यार महीने का सामान लाना था |"
"उसके मम्मी पापा, चाचा मामा, बड़ी बहिन, छोटा भाई......आ गए |"

You sort of get the feel of the life to come. And you start wondering how long before you will also be caught....Just then you see the municipality van coming to your neighborhood. Someone must have complained about the increasing number of stray dogs menacing on the streets. The municipal worker chases the dogs, puts a ring around the head of the dog and ruthlessly pulls it towards the standing van. The dog gives the best fight possible, but the metal ring only gets tighter, tight enough for not even the bark to come out. The van finally leaves, and the dog looks back at the streets, only a few minutes ago the dog was running around jumping with joy!.....

The feeling lingers on for the day......And then you get call form one of the rare species,
"आज रात कहाँ पार्टी है?"

You forget about the weird feelings. You don't dare check the FB status messages for the fear of getting another bad news or the same old rhetoric question,
"When are you getting married?"

You just put on the fist T that comes to your hand, pull out one of the jeans from the to-be-washed clothes pile, pick up the bike keys and leave for the streets...............

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Snippets from Life

I was super excited to meet my Di and her hubby for the first time after marriage. But, the last minute invitation left me wondering what to take along as a small gift. At last I thought that a tie and cufflinks would be the best gift easily available in any big clothings store. So, off I went on my bike to get them. The tie was easy to choose. A black tie always works well for any man! And then I asked the sales girl "Where can I get cufflinks?". Salesgirl says," What are cuff....". Alright, I explaied to her that cufflinks are like buttons of shirt to be worn on the sleeves. She says, "Sorry sir, we are a big shop". I said, "So what?". She says, "Sir, we are a big shop, we don't keep buttons. Please go to a tailor shop to get buttons!!"

The whole idea of becoming a BookFish Champion for Bangalore chapter sounded like I won a title of sorts. But, it was not long before I realised that this fish has long been out of water and almost everyone was a champion! Anyways, so we kickstarted the activities again. One of the first sessions was on India After Gandhi. We got some 15 serious peopple for our book dicussion. And the whole topic was vibrant enough to keep people engaged beyond the 1 hour sessions. So, we decided to go ahead with one more session on the same. But, the real "champions" woke up from their slumber and growled at us:
 "I propose it is better to avoid topics that can be associated with politics, religion, sex."

Meeting with IIM Lucknow batchmates after a period of 6 months was refreshing. The interesting moments were watching Ballu depressed, Mooli excited and "mysteriously" dissapearing,  Ashu puzzled over million of invitations, Anshul wondering who the "girl" was, Roshan diplomatically answering "hmm" and Ayan fantacizing his loliness in his one room set. Ballu made some fingerlicking chicken specialities and promised to serve us in many more parties. But, the best part was the gambling on the floor over Teen Patti. Ashu took over 5 hours to convince everyone that Poker was a better game than Teen Patti. The game lasted for just 4 hours. And yes, like any gambling many a people lost their entire earnings on the game, and other walked away with the booty. Well the whole booty was a matchbox full of matchsticks!!! :D