Sunday, March 27, 2011

Where in the World is my Team

Author:        Terence Brake
Published:    2008
Publisher:     John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Hardcover:  238 Pages
Buy from Flipkart
This is a business fiction about  successfully  working in a globally distributed team. 
Will Williams works as a Personal Assistant to the Managing Director of  The Fun House a company that makes electronic games. The employees of this company are scattered across the world - Paris, London, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Bangalore, New York, Berlin. 
Will's boss will be interviewed on TV in six weeks time where she will be asked about the successful virtual global workspace which The Fun House  has established . She wants Will to put together a briefing report about it to get herself prepared for this interview. 

How Will  goes about working on this assignment taking inputs from his colleagues spread across the globe forms the main plot of this book. 

Towards the end Will puts together a briefing report entitled : Global Virtual Team Essentials. This 25 page report is an appendix to the main storyline . It summarizes the key idea of the book which is 6 C Framework of Global Collaboration - Cooperation, Convergence, Coordination, Capability, Communication and Cultural Intelligence. The report explains the need and importance of each of these Cs and gives pointers to implement them.

I too used to work in a global team with my colleagues in USA, France, Romania and India. We gelled fairly well as a team but could have done much better if we had understood and appreciated the nuances of global collaboration so effectively brought out in this book . 

The whole story is narrated in a very entertaining manner with ample doses of humor.
A must read for every member in a Global Team. !

Key Takeaways:
  • The New Work Place is Virtual and Global. It reduces the influence of commercial and labor borders and is effectively enabled through new communications and computing technologies. This has resulted in increased levels of complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity, which can only be managed by intensive and extensive collaboration across internal and external borders. Only then competitive advantage can be gained through virtual and global teams.
  • The three major challenges of virtual collaboration are - Team member Isolation, Fragmentation of Team Efforts and Team member Confusion
  • To counteract these challenges, a virtual team needs to generate high levels of - Engagement, Cohesion and Clarity.
  • This can be achieved through implementation of 6C Framework of Global Collaboration which consists of

    1. Cooperation - Building trust in  colleagues whom you may never meet face to face.
    2. Convergence - Focusing the efforts of scattered individuals on  team success.
    3. Coordination -  Making sure distance doesn't get in the way of smooth flow of work
    4. Capability - Making very best use of talent in the team irrespective of its location. 
    5. Communication - Sharing the same understanding across borders
    6. Cultural Intelligence - Going beyond individual cultures to the team culture   

 Useful Links:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Captain Cool: The M.S. Dhoni Story

Author:        Gulu Ezekiel
Published:     2008
Publisher:     Westland Limited
Paperback:  128 Pages
Readers in India:

While I write this, the performance of the Indian cricket team captained by M.S. Dhoni (the subject of this book) is  not too impressive in this World Cup (though they have reached the quarter-finals).
And same applies to this book. The author is supposed to be one of the best-known sports  journalist. Maybe he should have stuck to it instead of trying his hand in writing books especially a biography. 
A good biography  should paint a very interesting and realistic picture of its subject. You must really get to know the person whose life is being described.
However this book has a feel of some newspaper reports of the  matches involving Dhoni loosely stitched together. We really don't get to know Dhoni as a person.
This is one book which I will not recommend to anybody except may be to die-hard  Dhoni fans, who may lap it up. 
Ignore the Buy Buttons in this post ! I just retained them to maintain the consistency of my blog posts !
Actually I ordered this book from India Plaza recently  when they offered it for just Rs. 1 as a special World Cup offer.  Maybe they wanted to get rid of the huge inventory of this book which hardly anyone would have bought otherwise.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Introducing Statistics - A Graphic Guide

Authors:        Eileen Magnello & 
                      Borin Van Loon
Published:    2009
Publisher:    Icon Books Ltd.
Paperback: 176 pages
Readers in India

The history of statistics and its basic concepts have been explained completely through comic-book like illustrations and blurbs. 
The concepts explained are -  distributions, sampling, summarizing data, variation, correlation, regression, chi-squared, hypothesis testing, the analysis of variance etc.

I bought this book after a quick browse through its pages, since I felt that it would be an useful aid for my training and consulting assignments .  I could surely use some of the material for my training classes on  Statistical Analysis of  Software Metrics(With due attribution of course ! Don't want to be branded as a plagiarist (-: ! ).  

But on the whole I felt that the explanations of concepts could have been better. So it may not hold the interest of an absolute layperson. However it is  a fairly good supplement to an introductory text book on statistics as the well drawn illustrations and cartoons, several of them quite humorous,  will reinforce the concepts learnt in the classroom.

You may have sneak peek of the first 30 odd pages of this book at

An Interesting Fact mentioned in this book:  
Florence Nightingale, known to everyone as the "Lady with the Lamp" who made nursing a respectable profession, was a passionate statistician. During Crimean War in 1850s  she discovered that due to unhygienic sanitary conditions in  military hospitals an annual mortality rate of 60 % from diseases like typhus, typhoid and cholera was greater than the Great Plague in London. She used the technique of Polar Area Graph to illustrate such data  which dramatized the extent of needless deaths during the war and was successful in persuading the medical profession that deaths were preventable if sanitation reforms were implemented in hospitals.
Have a look at the Polar Area Graph used by her at

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Blog Performance Scorecard (2010-2011)

41 Book Reviews/Summaries has been posted by me in "Bookworm Reads" blog, over the last one year !
How were they received by the netizens around the world ?
Here is the Blog Performance: Score Card for  the last year (Mar 1 2010 - Feb 28 2011)
  • Unique Visitors : 1311 ;  3-4 visitors per day. [Last Year : 925; 2-3 visitors per day].
  • Visitors  from 66 countries  [Last Year: 61]
  •  2583 Page Views [Last Year : 2024]
  • Top 6 page views :
    1. Home page (387 page views)
    2. Go Kiss the World  - Subroto Bagchi (302 page views
    3. The JahangirnamaJahangir (Translated by William M. Thackston) (132 page views)
    4. Software Engineering Best Practices - Caper Jones (131 page views)
    5. The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown (89 page views)
    6. The High-Performance Entrepreneur - Subroto Bagchi  and
    7. Like the Flowing River - Paulo Coelho (88 page views each)
The books by  Subroto Bagchi  and  Paulo Coelho figured in the last year's Top 6 also. Other books are new entrants to the Top 6 list.