Friday, January 25, 2008

Smile When You Bleed!

This may look very funny for many people. But, how do you respond to the most difficult question when someone is fully aware that you are bleeding? You offer an unconditional smile. Smiling is the secret to health and serenity according to several spiritual traditions. The Inner Smile practice propounds that when we smile like a Buddha, the world beams back.

A deep inner smile spreads like a relaxing elixir making us receptive to transform negative energy into positive. Conversely, a scowl suppresses our immune system by increasing stress, contracting channels and blocking energy. Research by French physiologist Dr Israel Waynbaum indicates that facial muscles used to express emotion trigger specific brain neurotransmitters. Smiling signals happy healing hormones such as ecstatic endorphins and immune boosting killer T-cells whereas frowning triggers the secretion of stress hormones. Smile therapy actually lowers the stress hormones cortisol, adrenalin and noradrenaline and produces hormones which stabilize blood pressure, relax muscles, improve respiration, reduce pain, accelerate healing and stabilize mood. If you’re feeling down the stress hormones secreted with a scowl may increase blood pressure, weaken the immune system, increase susceptibility to infections, and exacerbate depression and anxiety.

But what if we don’t feel like smiling? Can we fake it till we make it? Though a heart-felt smile has a deeper effect, even a surface smile tricks the brain into releasing happy hormones according to facial biofeedback research. And the more we smile, the more we want to smile concluded a study where people allowed to smile found cartoons funnier than those suppressed from smiling by holding pencils in their lips. This is because each time we smile we reinforce happy neural pathways that fire more spontaneously with each subsequent use. Self- love smiling circuits then release healing nectar and self-hate messages release poisons that breed disease according to Taoism.

A challenge many experience in practicing the inner smile is the tendency towards negativity. We can catch an inner frown from others negative outlook or our own. When you get tense simply remind yourself to smile again and any inner wrinkles will soon smooth over, uplifting others energy. Strengthen your inner smile by practicing it in difficult situations such as during exercise, traffic jams, long queues and when annoyed.

The bottom line: Keep the worries at bay, and practice your inner smile!


1. Caroline, Robertson, (2007). The Inner Smile. Retrieved on January 25, 2008

2. Davis & Palladino, (2000) In a research study, participants were either prevented or encouraged to smile by being instructed how to hold a pencil in their mouths. Those who held a pencil in their teeth and thus were able to smile rated cartoons as funnier than did those who held the pencil in their lips and thus could not smile.

3.Strack, F., Martin, L.L. and Stepper, S. (1988) Inhibiting and facilitating conditions of the human smile: A nonobstrusive test of the facial feedback hypothesis. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 54: 768-777

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Global Leader Roles – Do organizations follow the right approach?

Leaders who tend to be remembered over the course of history are probably, in most cases, those who transform organizations or, more generally, ways of thinking, Stormer (2003).

The most important point for a leader in a multinational company is how the management is able to harmonize between individualism and collectivism points of view in order to achieve high productivity.

According to Muna (2006), there are seven roles that global leaders must play:
1. Leaders have a responsibility for preparing and selecting human resources, taking care of them, and developing them.
2. Leaders must be able to work in a team, wise in delegating and empowering, and helping each other when their subordinates and colleagues are in trouble.
3. Leaders have excellent versatility as they may create the company’s long-term value.
4. Leaders must know how to give direction towards goals that must be achieved.
5. Leaders must possess global mindset, have a broad point of view, be aware of cultural differences, and be able to handle different consumer preferences.
6. Leaders must have an ability to negotiate with different customers, clients, suppliers, government officials, etc.
7. Leaders must be able to handle multiple tasks and to balance work, family, and personal life. Besides, there are alternative improvements that could develop the relationship between headquarters and subsidiaries.

Do organizations follow these basic principles. Its worth evaluating the options!!

Reference: Muna, A. F. (2006). Seven leadership roles. International Journal of Commerce and Management 16 (1): 51-57.

Offshore Centric Enterprises – Some Thoughts

The offshore centric enterprise can deliver enormous economic benefits to both developed and developing nations. The integration of the work force in developing countries into global systems of production is already raising living standards, improving working conditions, and creating more jobs in those countries. Small and medium-sized businesses everywhere, particularly, are benefiting: as new services— from back-office administration to sales support—create infrastructures once only affordable to large organizations, these businesses can now participate in the global economy.

Shifting to the offshore model also presents big challenges for leaders in every sector of society. The very fact that so many more people all over the world are gaining equal access to the production process and the marketplace means much more trade and competition. Although this will create wealth and opportunity, it will also bring disruption and fear, both of which could threaten global integration. Legitimate concerns about job loss and skill shortages must be addressed in realistic and constructive ways.

The single most important challenge in shifting to offshore model—and the consideration driving most business decisions today—will be securing a supply of high-value skills. Nations and companies alike must invest in better basic educational and training programs. New kinds of managerial skills are also needed. Hierarchical, command-and-control approaches simply do not work anymore. They impede information flows inside companies, hampering the fluid and collaborative nature of work today. This is a key consideration in modern day organizations.

Global Competition in the Flat World

The cliché that the world is getting flat is dramatically true for today’s organizations. With rapid advances in technology and communications, the time it takes to exert influence around the world from even the most remote locations has been reduced from years to only seconds. Business is becoming a unified global field as trade barriers fall, communication becomes faster and cheaper, and consumer tastes in everything from clothing to cellular phones converge, Chowdhury (2004). In the twenty first century, organizations will have to feel “at home” anywhere in the world. Companies can locate different parts of the organization wherever it makes the most business sense; top leadership in one country; technical brainpower and production in other locales. Although this growing interdependence brings many advantages, it also means that the environment for companies is becoming extremely complex and extremely competitive. Organizations have to learn to cross lines of time, culture, and geography in order to survive. Every company, large and small, faces international competition on its home turf at the same time it confronts the need to be more competitive in international markets. Rising managers today need to know a second or third language and develop cross-cultural understanding. Large companies are working to globalize the management structures to remain competitive internationally, while even the smallest companies are searching for structures and processes that help them reap the advantages of global interdependence and minimize the disadvantages.

Organizational Turbulence

For much of the twentieth century, organizations operated in a relatively stable business environment, so managers could focus on designing structures and systems that kept the organization running smoothly and efficiently. There was little need to search for new ways to cope with increased competition or shifting customer demands. All that began to change in the 1980s, and today’s organizations are struggling to catch up with the changes that have proliferated since then. Advances in computers and information technology are driving many of these changes at the same time they provide ways to cope with them. We’ll see more turbulence in the days ahead. Fasten your seat belts and get ready for the ride!!

Reference: Chowdhury, S. (2002). Organization 21C: Someday all organizations will lead this way. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Value adding aspects of the product and/or service to the organization

There is an urgent need for Corporations to move toward value added services and away from general commodity-type services, Birks (2000). In order to remain a leader in customer service and compete in a highly competitive market, organizations looks for ways to foster efficiencies by improving collaboration within the company and by offering value-added services that benefit its customers. “Our business is taking place at the customer’s location, so what we try to do is streamline collaboration with our customers and internally with our employees,” a CEO remarked. “That partnership helps us develop value-added services that can increase efficiencies for both the organizations and its customers, which makes everyone happy.”
Market leaders across industries recognize services is key to driving revenue, differentiating offerings and meeting customer needs.
•Increasing global competition
•Mounting product price pressure
•Decreasing product margins
Cycle Time
•Decreasing product life cycles
Integrated customer needs
•Meeting wider set of related customer needs & customer out comes
•Creating new sources of differentiation
•Diversifying revenue stream
•Higher Margins
•Longer contracts

Reference: Birks, G., (2000). Value-added Information Services. The Art of Being Synchronous with Your Corporation. Retrieved on January 15, 2008 from:

Improving communication among cultures in a Global Context

To thrive in a dynamic and often stressful environment, companies must make every effort to build effective communications with those from different cultures. By recognizing and being familiar with global cultural differences, managers can become more sensitive to potential problem areas at the international, national, and business levels. Establishing organization wide communication guidelines for all individuals will go a long way in eliminating unnecessary communication problems. Such guidelines must stress the use of precise and clear language both for in-person meetings and in less personal mediums such as email. The extra time spent by organizations in communications preparation and screening as well as cultural understanding will be repaid immeasurably through improved relations not only with foreign business partners but also with all the individuals from other cultures who comprise an essential and critical part of the global business environment— the international consumer base.

Ten Ways to Improve Communications among cultures.
1. Recognize that cultural differences exist between communicating parties.
2. Become familiar with cultural generalizations, as they may affect communications.
3. Try role reversal as a means to provide clues about cultural behaviors in communications.
4. Gather background data on communicating parties that may modify cultural
5. Communicate using precise and clear statements rather than idioms or acronyms.
6. Consider the implications to non-native speakers when assessing the use of single-
language communications.
7. Recognize that translators limit the ability of communicators to have real-time exchanges.
8. Respect the different cultures as “different voices” that can be used to find common-
ground agreement.
9. Review communications content prior to distribution to assure that information is
presented without cultural or language bias.
10. Confirm the validity of message content at the completion of the communication

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ethical Issues in Information Technology

The term “ethics” comes from the Greek word ethike that means “character,” and indeed the ancient Greeks conceived issues about what people should do in terms of impact upon character (Aristotle, 350 BCE). Nowadays, “ethics” is an inclusive term for concerns also referred to by “morality,” “value,” and “justice.” Besides character and action, ethics in this inclusive sense is also concerned with the value or goodness of things and situations and with the justness of institutions (both formal and informal).

Much professional ethics for IT consultants, for example, revolves around preserving and developing a good reputation for being the sort of person who will regularly do good work, make sure a project is done well, and the like. One’s reputation is for being the kind of person who will consistently behave well, but good character is by no means our only concern with regard to what people should do. Bad actions and bad performance can be more important than any amount of good reputation if they are bad enough. People sometime surprise us when they act “out of character.” On the other hand, it is the belief in enduring character that allows people to “coast on their (good) reputations.” And IT firms affirm their belief in the enduring character of technical expertise when they hire previously convicted hackers like Kevin Mitnick.

The business discipline

The business discipline under consideration is Information Technology Statement of ethical issue:

There are at least three sets of conflicting interests in Information Technology outsourcing: 1) the corporations who save large amounts of money on labor costs; 2) the offshore workers who receive better salaries in their home economies; and 3) the United States workers who lose their jobs.

Each of these parties has important considerations involving their own interests: the corporation for maximizing profits and shareholder return, the global workers for improving their income, and the U.S. workers for keeping their jobs. There are additional self- interested considerations for the corporation: Some jobs simply do not outsource well, even if the technical abilities of the workers in the two countries are the same. But even when all self-interested considerations are taken into account, there remains an ethical issue, an issue of justice. Defenders of globalization maintain that free trade of jobs will make everyone better off in the long run. This claim goes beyond considerations of self-interest and it may be true or false. Due to globalization jobs occur within a social and economic context, and it is within that context that economic inequalities are ethically justified. So why is globalization of employment any more justified than globalizing of tax liabilities? It is clear in both cases that corporations benefit from the social and economic institutions that allow them to function in their home country. It might be expected that they make corresponding contributions to their home country even when they could do better otherwise. On an institutional level, many such principles are laws, but the ethical component of such discussion is implied in the famous statement, “There ought to be a law.” The ethical question behind this statement is “Ought there to be a law?” And even if there is a law, the ethical question is “Is it a just law?” And behind this question is a major theoretical question, “What is justice?”

Identification of the business decision to be made

The range of ethical issues important for IT is perhaps broader than one might have thought. But are the issues really any different from other ethical issues? Does IT itself produce circumstances that don’t fit into pre-existing ethical categories? The second question is: What features of Information Technology create new ethical issues? There are many questions and there may not be very many answers!