Ant and Grasshopper During Recession

I am not an economist or a management guru. I do not know what precisely causes economic recessions and booms. I am 47 years and lived all my life in India. I never really faced a recession in my life. So, the whole thing is quite new and mysterious.

I have read a lot about the problems faced by organizations and individuals because of this recession. I read that companies are cutting costs by laying off employees and stopping salary hikes and in some cases, reducing salaries for the remaining. I also read that men and women are finding it very difficult to meet their financial obligations.

Why companies are going bankrupt? Is it because their customers are not buying enough or they are not repaying what they have borrowed? And why do the customers do that? Is it because they do not have money? Why don’t they have money? Is it because their employers haven’t paid them? The questions go on. I haven’t really figured out where it started.

To me it looks like the old story of the Ant and the Grasshopper. The ant toils first and then enjoys the fruits of its labor whereas the grasshopper enjoys first and then it doesn’t have the chance to earn it! Are we not the grasshoppers of today’s world? Organizations want to grow very fast, very big not by improving their worth to their customers but by borrowing money and synthetically growing; individuals want to enjoy the luxuries of cars and flats by borrowing many times their earnings.

For a moment, imagine a person with a modest salary and modest savings but with no debts? Or a small business which pays modest salaries but with adequate retained earnings and is debt free?

How will the recession affect them?

Such a business doesn’t think of retrenching its employees; it is busy making more money than ever as it is actually in the best position to offer its services at a lesser cost as it does need to bother about loan payments to banks and investors. And the individual? He doesn’t need to worry about the house loan repayments. Even if he is retrenched, his savings will see him through till he gets a new job, which he will very quickly, especially if his philosophy is to strive to be worth more. It constantly goads him to improve his skills.

Why can’t we be ants? Why can’t we strive to be worth more to earn more? Why can’t we earn first and then rightfully enjoy? It is possible both for organizations as well as individuals to live like ants and avoid the fate of grasshoppers. To the ants of the world, I salute you. To the grasshoppers, it is never too late to become an ant!

RK PRASAD
CEO

The word “Planning”

By Syed Amjad Ali

In this particular article I will share some of my experience in which I really struggled to become successful.

I have started my career as a programmer (Flash Action Scripting). With-in no time I learned many languages and software like PHP, ASP JavaScript, SCORM, AICC and lot many things after Joining CommLab India.

What ever challenges came to me in programming, I got through those challenges successfully. If I remember properly, approximately 97% of times I successfully faced the challenges and 3% were failure. From those 3% of failure, I use to learn and apply that experience in next challenges. For a period of 2 years, I was driving my career with an unlimited speed facing every challenge of my life happily.

One day every thing started changing. From an unlimited speed, I was dropped to zero. The reason was – CommLab India decided to start a new department called “Technology” which will play a supporting role to make the things better in courseware and I was going to head the department.

After this decision it took me a very long time to pick up my pace again. When I was a programmer, I was in the front line to face the challenges but now my team will be in front line to face the challenges and I was standing behind them.

Before forming the team, I was working alone and for any challenges I use to do planning by myself REGULARLY. When the team came, I use to plan for them once (when the project start) and forget it. Every time I was facing failure rather than success. I was not able to understand what the problem is going on.

Then I came across a method called RPM (Result Oriented Purpose Driven Massive Action Plan) by Anthony Robin. I went through the training material to learn RPM. Slowly I started implementing RPM method in my projects and found that it really works. The rate of failures in the projects started decreasing. Not only I am practicing the RPM method in my personal and profession life but also teaching this method to others in my surrounding to that I learn this method properly.

When we start any assignment – a project for a client or buying something for you – we put some milestones and we think that we have done enough of planning for that assignment. But if you really want to understand the meaning of the word “Planning” then it’s just not putting up the milestone but breaking each milestone into such small pieces that you can see each part of the project crystal clear. For example, you have to send a mail to your client regarding an update on the project. If you think that write a mail is not a part of planning then you are wrong. Every thing which you are going to perform in the project is a part of planning.

When you are putting milestones for a project, it’s just a “Plan”. When you start breaking the milestone into small pieces then it becomes “Planning” and you have to keep on evaluating you’re planning at regular milestones to see that your planning is going according to your plan.

It was a dream of CommLab India to have there own university from a long time and finally we had our University (http://www.commlabuniversity.com) because we planned it properly. Now I am heading Technology department in which I have a team of 4 members who take care of CommLab University, trouble shoot any technical problems and also support courseware in make there works simple.

It took me a very long time to understand the different between “Plan” and “Planning”. I am happy that I understood the difference and now I am able to apply it. I am thankful to CommLab for providing me the opportunity to get trained on RPM method.

Still I have to go a long way learning from my failures and moving towards a successful future.

Syed Amjad Ali
Sr. Manager-Technology

Sharing of Knowledge

Knowledge is like water in a Well. If you share the water with the society people then level of the water will never decrease every day fresh water will come. In the other case if you stop using the water and not allowing others to use, then within a few months the level of water will get reduced and the still water will becomes impure and one day there will be no water in the well.

So if we don’t use our knowledge and not sharing with others then our skills level will slowly decrease and one day we don’t have any knowledge to compete with the latest and advanced technology. If you share the knowledge and transfer your work to others then you will get time and new opportunities to learn new thing and increase the level of your skills to compete with the latest and advanced technology.

I have attended the Knowledge session presented by Stephen R. Covey on January 29, 2009 and I am very impressed with the concept of “Learn by Teaching”.

At the time of my school days one of my teachers used to say

One time of writing is better than 10 times of reading

Same thing now I can say that

One time of training is better than 10 times of writing i.e., 100 times of reading

Power of Learning by Teaching a Survey Report

Power of Learning by Teaching a Survey Report

My Experience as a Project Manager in CommLab India:

I got opportunities to learn authoring tools and one of them is Lectora. I learnt some basic skills from the documentation and I used forums to clarify my doubts. I did not go to any institute neither took any online training.

While working on the projects, I started giving training in my organization. While training other colleagues, I learnt a lot and increased my skills. Now I became an expert in Lectora and I can develop whatever feature is required.

Initially, I believed that training can be given only to talented people who knew basic programming. But now I believe that training can be given to any one. I have become an expert in my field.

All these improvement happened only through “learn by training”.

We have other methods to learn, for example we can get learning by work experience, from institutes, or by online tutorials. But to become an expert and get command on the subject one MUST train others.

Abdul Razzaque Hussain
Project Manager

The Real E-Learning Standards

The Real E-Learning Standards

As teachers and instructional designers, we always endeavor to make things easy and engaging for the learner. We take pride in making our programs learner-centric but what about the standards we so religiously adhere to?

Have we ever considered if these standards are really jeopardizing our efforts? How far are these standards – AICC, IMS and SCORM – learner-centric? Do these standards have anything to do with learning? Are these standards really impeding learning? Are we too enamored with these standards that we lost sight of the most important entity – the learner?

Read More

Inside Out Approach to Combat Recession

CommLab believes that recessions are game-changers. It’s when companies that execute well move ahead of those who don’t.

We have taken lot of initiatives so that we not only survive the ill effects of recession, but also to grow and attract new business.

One of such initiatives is that the top team attended Dr. Stephen R. Covey program on “Overcoming Challenges in Today’s Times.”

In this piece, I would like to share some of the learning from the training program. The essence of Dr. Covey’s teachings is that if you apply an inside-out approach in handling recession, it can become a boom.

Let’s have a look at the “inside” of ourselves…

4 Dimensions of Human Personality

Take a reality check whether you are living a principle-centric life. The principles should be in total harmony with the universal laws, trust, respect and timelessness. Sometimes our values do not match the natural laws. We have to create values that are in harmony with universal laws.

Secondly, create a synergistic culture. The top-down autocratic style is obsolete. Today’s knowledge worker age is a different model. The time has come for us to change from Industrial age to information age.

Leadership is NOT about Control

Let’s see the differences.

Once you align your values to the universal laws and create a synergistic culture, it is time for you to help your people to become leaders by helping them find their voice, trust their teams and instituionalize this change in the organization.

Over Coming Ill Effects of Recession – 3 Demensional Approach

1. Personal Greatness: Find your voice (overlap of body, mind, heart and soul)

2. Leadership Greatness: Trust – clear purpose, aligned systems and unleash talent

3. Organizational Greatness: Institutionalize focus and execution – independent of people.

So start from inside-out and conquer recession.

Achievements of the Year 2008

Technology

Technology:

  • Introduced Online Bug Tracking System
  • ASP Server and VPS Server acquired and setup
  • Cross-Domain LMS compatibility developed
  • Payment Merchandizing Gateway (Paypal) developed

Custom Courseware

Custom Courseware development:

  • Produced a course in 24 languages in 25 days for METTLER TOLEDO
  • Launched CommLab University with 4 Sales Courses and 9 Business Writing courses

Training

Training:

  • Chief Operating Officer, Ayesha Habeeb Omer participated in Advanced Leadership Course in Anthony Robbins’ “Leadership Academy”, USA
  • Formal Training and HRD department started headed by a full time manager.
  • Online training for CommLab employees launched with “New Employee Experience”, “Lectora Online Training” and “CommLab Production Process” courses

Management

Management:

  • Expanded the office layout to accommodate 20 more workstations
  • Participated in IT Recruitment Fare at Nizam’s College, Hyderabad
  • CommLab’s Online HR Portal launched
  • “CommLab” registered under Trademark and Copyrights, Government of India. Dun & Bradstreet rated CommLab again this year with a “2B” rating. CommLab premises are now a ‘custom-bonded” warehouse.

Management

Marketing:

  • CommLab’s first press release in Indian media and the Internet.
  • CommLab is now registered as potential vendor/ supplier for over 200 Fortune 500 companies
  • CommLab represented in ASTD Expo and Conference, San Diego by senior managers’ courseware and technology.
  • CommLab blog launched
  • CommLab registered in Yahoo directory
  • Entered Product training segment and Authoring Tools based projects
  • YouTubes videos of CommLab launched

New Customers:

  • Unilever, UK, Sun Corp, Australia, Boost Elearning, USA, VMWare, Canada, IntelliTrain, Australia, IPSTeam, USA, American Axel, USA, Ceridian, Canada and METTLER TOLEDO-UK

Management

Human Performance Enhancements

  • Morning Motivational Activities for state change started
  • CommLab Anthem, “We are the Champion” started
  • Custom-designed Posters on Emotional Intelligence (EQ) put up in the Office and Dining area.
  • Celebrations of weekly effort introduced on weekends
  • Half Yearly Meeting converted into Half Yearly Celebrations comprising purely fun instead of formal presentations and appraisals, in an outward-bound training facility in the outskirts of Hyderabad.
  • A more personal way of celebrating birthdays devised and launched.

Specter of Worldwide Recession and CommLab India

The media is full of news about downsizing and layoffs across the world, especially in USA, Europe and recently in Japan. It is disconcerting, to say the least. Losing one’s job is something which nightmares are made of. From a company’s point of view also it a question of survival.

What about a small Indian company, like CommLab, most of whose customers are in these countries? How do we plan to cope or coping, for that matter?

For us, downsizing is never an option because we consider sacking our employees to cut down costs akin to a family asking some of its members to leave home because there isn’t much on the table! We are conservative and cautious when we take in a person or create a position. Once a person is taken in, he is with us in good times and bad times.

How do we then meet our expenses if the business starts drying up? Well, I remember a scion of a huge conglomerate saying that if we don’t have enough money, we don’t cook costly dishes but subsist on staples. We can have everything we need, if we accept that there are always alternatives. The resistance is therefore more mental and psychological. A manager always traveling first class finds it very difficult to travel second class; but he can, till the company tides over. When the company doesn’t raise the bogey of retrenchment or cuts in salaries, usually the employees show their appreciation by working harder and spending lesser of company’s resources. We can survive longer, if we decide to.

Recession is the best time for a company to get new business because your customers are also looking for ways and means of reducing their expenses. We offer our services at much lesser price than usual because we know that our customers will appreciate it and make good in the days to come. Will you not, if you are in their place?

This is also the best time to do some serious housekeeping – evaluating existing systems and procedures, training employees and a host of other “maintenance” activities which are “important but not urgent”. This is the best time to “sharpen our axes” and be ready for the slump to come to an end.

Business cycles are natural and inevitable. If we accept this fact, our brains can come up with numerous creative ways to survive and subsist during tough times. So recession is good news at CommLab.

Celebrating Christmas at CommLab India

At CommLab India, we celebrate all festivals be it Deepawali, Holi, Ramazan or Christmas. Now its time to celebrate Christmas!

We made cakes in our cafeteria, decorated our Christmas trees and had a great Christmas Lunch on 24th December.

We wish all our Clients, Employees and all our Friends a Merry Christmas!

Enjoy the photos and have a happy, loving and peaceful Christmas!

CommLab India – Using eLearning Solutions Extensively for its Employees for Better ROI

As you are aware CommLab India has been providing eLearning and Custom Courseware solutions to a wide variety of organizations worldwide?

We also practice what we preach, so to speak! We use eLearning very extensively for our employee training. We believe that eLearning is an effective tool that saves time and cost. Best tool to update employees on new technologies and policies.

Most of our technical, product and procedural training happen online. We have a New Employee Experience Course, which is used as induction training for new employees at CommLab India.

Know Your CommLab

Know Your CommLab

We use eLearning for all our technical product training. We train our employees on using Lectora and Flash by creating self-paced Elearning courses.

Our employees are given product/ software training on all the products of MS Office Suite through eLearning mode. Our Instructional designers learn how to create storyboards in Word and PowerPoint and Excel through this medium.

Employees are trained and tested using our Learning management System, which we have customized using open source SCORM/ AICC LMS, Moodle. We have a dedicated Training Manager who monitors and administers learning to all our employees.

We believe that eLearning is very effective even for small companies like ours and also for our clients who are Fortune and Global Fortune Companies that in different industry segments.

eLearning is a very effective tool to manage your scarce resources – people, time and cost. Use it extensively for all your training needs.

Begin the day with Energy and Fun!

At CommLab we all are eager to come to office because the first thing we do is play. All of us including the CEO assemble on the terrace of our office at 9.00 sharp and have a small fun activity for 20 minutes. All these activities are conducted by our employees. This activity unites us all and we are full of energy to start our day. By the end of the activity we all charged to start the day in a positive, energetic manner. It helps us clear the cobwebs of the earlier night and reach an empowered state.

Watch us in action!

Once we finish this game, we all sing a powerful incantation and affirmation in a song form – “We are the Champions”.

We Are the Champions” is a power ballad written by Freddie Mercury, recorded and performed by Queen for their 1977 album News of the World. One of their most famous and popular songs, it has since become an anthem for sporting victories and has been often used or referenced in popular culture.

More on this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_Are_the_Champions

Listen to the song “We Are the Champions

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(Download)

CommLab India – We Are the Champions!