Monday, December 15, 2008

Asia Pacific High Level Survey Findings on state of HR technologies adoption

This first CedarCrestone Asia Pacific HR Systems Survey of 277 organizations representing over 2 million employees discovered the following. This survey report will be published in the next week:
● The number one business initiative worldwide, including for APAC countries, is a focus on metrics and analytics whether in the form of developing a metrics strategy, integrating data sources, or implementing business intelligence applications to enable metrics-based management. Aligning employee performance with organizational goals (including implementing a performance management application) and business process improvements are also top initiatives.
● Self service and moving to an HR service center approach enables organizations to serve more employees with their HR staff.
● Talent management and business intelligence applications matter – those organizations that have these applications report higher financial performance than those without these applications.
● An integrated talent management approach enables organizations to achieve a lower total cost of ownership. Organizations with such an approach also reported higher sales and more than double the operating income growth than those with alternative approaches (44% vs. 17%). In this economic environment, an integrated talent management portfolio is a best practice.
● Web 2.0 is at the innovator stage among APAC respondents, but early adopters worldwide are achieving early positive advantage of double the sales growth of those without these technologies.

Friday, December 5, 2008

How old would you be if you lived on Mars?

For me, I'd be 34. I rather like that. Check this out this birth calculator for each of the planets. And, I'm really young on Saturn!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Balancing self, relationship and work

I've been asked why I'm doing a blog on quilting and surveys. For some time now, people at my company had been encouraging me to do a blog. But I think I never wanted to do a blog just on work stuff. It wasn't until my friend, Dickie, started one on quilting (and life) that I decided ...OK. I can do one on quilting too AND also on work stuff. Further, I'd had a conversation with a colleague at Knowledge Infusion. Heidi Spirgi and I were talking about blogging being a male endeavor. Certainly most of the blogs I follow that are work related are by guys. Heidi and I both agreed though that life is not just about work and that women's lives seem much more full. For us women, life is a balance. It's a balance of our commitment to work, our commitment to our relationship with our partner and family, and most importantly a commitment to the relationship with our emerging selves.

So, for me, work-life balance means balancing all three of my commitments: to my husband, kids, and extended family; to my work; and to me. Surprisingly, blogging is a lot about that last one. By getting some of my thoughts into writing, I am exploring that last most important relationship.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Encouraging innovation -- you can help by voting

As you read the following (copied from an email from the Herman Trend email on November 26), realize that innovation comes from collaborative endeavors. By voting, you too can contribute. Visit Project 10 to the 100th to sign up to vote.

Herman Trend says: "Some months ago now, the leading searching engine Google launched a competition calling for ideas to change the world by helping as many people as possible.

Herman Trend says: "Some months ago now, the leading search engine Google launched a competition calling for ideas "to change the world by helping as many people as possible". It was open to anyone anywhere in the world.

They call the contest "Project 10 to the 100th"; 10 to the 100 is another way of expressing the number "googol", a one followed by one hundred zeroes. The goal of the challenge reflects the company's goal---"to achieve great results through smart technology that starts small and scales dramatically over time to have a tremendous long-term impact". The Project is a similar attempt to produce those kinds of scalable results by harnessing [their] users' insights and creativity. Yes, Google wants to help change the world for the better. Unfortunately, the deadline for submission of ideas was October 20, 2008.

However, you can still vote on the idea you believe is best. The voting on ideas will begin on January 27, 2009. (They will send you a reminder to vote, if you wish?) At that time Google will post a selection of one hundred ideas and ask you, the public, to choose twenty semi-finalists. Then an advisory board will select up to five final ideas. To implement these projects, Google has committed $10 million, and their goal is to help as many people as possible.

This Project reminds us of others. Many of us have heard about the X Prize given for Space Flight. Yet, the X Prize Foundation is planning other prizes in diverse fields, including Health Care, Education Energy and Environment, Exploration, Global Entrepreneurship, and Life Sciences.

The other well-publicized competition to encourage innovation is the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Challenge. For years, the United States Department of Defense has had an interest in developing a driverless vehicle that would navigate long distances. Remarkable technological advancements have emerged from this annual contest.

Expect more entrepreneurs, private enterprise and government entities to offer incentives to encourage and reward innovation. For the entrepreneurs, the pay-off is leaving the legacy of a better world; for private enterprise, it is about demonstrating corporate social responsibility; for government, it is about advancing defense technologies at a relatively reasonable cost."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fabric Dyeing in China

On the next to the last day of our trip in China, we visited Wuzhen, about 75 miles from Hangzhou. This scenic town is another of the "water towns" in China. But my real interest in this town was that it had an exhibit of indigo-blue fabric dyeing. Actually, the whole town is kind of like our Jamestown, where there are many of the "old" crafts exhibited like basket making and making combs from horn, and more. But, as a quilter, I find the old crafts related to fabric very interesting and will always go out of my way to see these. This trip was worth it.

The picture above is how they finally dry the dyed fabric and it's lovely to see these long swaths of cloth blowing in the breeze (about 40 degree breeze the day we were there). The process goes like this:

1. Prepare a pattern. These used to be done by hand, but are now done by machine. They look like this. The crafts person puts a paste on the design.
The crafts person puts a paste on the design and when they lift the pattern off, it looks like this:
Then the pattern is pressed against the fabric and dyed in vats like these:

And, finally, the fabric is dried in the wind as in the picture at the beginning. Unfortunately, the "old" process has been replaced by machines, but it was good to see the old way. Modern quilters are still using the old way too. Here's a blog all about fabric dyeing:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Chinese food

OK, one last blog about China. This one is about the wonderful Chinese food.

We were often told that the Chinese eat everything! The adage goes something like this:
"The Chinese will eat everything. Everything from the sky except the plane; everything from the sea except the submarine; and everything from the lad except the stone.
This may likely be more poetic in Chinese.
We also heard of the regional differences:

North: in this region, the people need fat to keep them warm like the polar bear or Eskimo needs fat, so the food is often more substantive and oily.

West: this region is more known for its spicy food because spice preserves moisture/humidity in the body and these are the dry arid areas.

South: these people eat wild food like wild birds and snakes. Believe it or not, in Guilin, our furthest south site on our visit had snake on the menu. Of course, they also said that it would take a while to go get a snake.

East on the sea coast: eat fresh and finer foods and sure enough Hangzhou’s food was the best of our visit.

And here are a few of the challenging, fun foods and signs. First, dried duck:

Then: eel, frog and dog :(

Our favorite salad -- "The Dancing Salad" made of lettuce greens, other veggies, some dressing, and dancing to mix it all up.

The most popular American food in China. You might think it is McDonald's, but no, it is KFC. They are everywhere...kind of like Starbucks with multiple KFCs in the same block!

Finally, our favorite food -- the crispy fish. Yum.

And, now I'll go make a mundane dinner of broiled fish and salad.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What I Didn't Like about China

Not much, really. But there are a few things that are rather icky.

Old men pee in public. You'll be driving down the highway and see a guy with his back to the road. And little boys with their fathers will pee on statues. Ick.

Spitting....yuck, ick. Everywhere.

Slurping and smacking while eating. Yes...the food is really good and worth smacking your lips over, but it is somewhat overwhelming. However, understandable. The food is sticky. Think about sweet and sour pork.

Pushing. Wow...the train station door opens and all 900 people who will take the bullet train smush toward the door at once. You have to push too to get on or be lost in the trample.

Pushy street vendors. Major and I have often been the only non-Chinese on shopping streets and EVERYONE wants to sell us something. While bargaining is sometimes fun, you have to constantly be telling people No. Actually, the term is something like BuYa. (Our guide told us to remember the first two letters of Bush and Yao Men. I say BuYa a lot, but I really mean "bug off."

Hard beds. Even fine hotels have hard beds. Literally just a thin pad on boards. I love hard beds normally, but this is ridiculous!

But there's so much more to love!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Did you know?

With my visit to India and then to China, I found myself returning to the "Did you know" presentation on You Tube. I've got somewhat slow access to the Internet today in the "medium sized city" of Hangzhou so I've not watched this update of the first one that provided amazing stats about the US compared to China and India.

By the way, a medium-sized city has just 6 million people, while the large cities (Shanghai and Beijing) have over 15 million!

My head is swimming with thoughts about China. For example, prior to Mao, China had just 400 million people. Under Chairman Mao, who believed that the country could dominate with more people, the country quickly doubled to 800 million. But then, with the cultural revolution a "one family/one child" policy was initiated. If the first child is a girl, then 4-5 years later, the family can try again. If the child is a boy, that's all the family can have.

The implications of this population growth: 1) all children are tremendously spoiled. One of our guides told us that children are both spoiled and unprepared to share or collaborate unless taught this in university; 2) girls are spoiled too, but they are somewhat "2nd class," 3) there will not be enough children to earn/pay for the larger population that preceded them. Systems thinking would have helped in this case, eh?

But what a wonderfully dynamic, while steeped in history, place China is. Stay tuned for blogs on construction, food, and culture.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cormorant Fishing

In the river villages of China, there is a way of fishing that is both lovely, and not to SPCA standards.

Cormorant fishing is a way the fisherman is able to catch lots of fish, in rivers and lakes, where apparently the fish are too smart to take bait on a line and a net won't work because of the rocks. The You Tube link shows this being done graphically. I'll explain what we were told.

The fisherman raises the cormorants from being hatched from the egg. They become a part of the family and they are loved and cared for. They don't run away. Here's a picture of a fisherman's cormorant crew.
At night, the fisherman goes out with his crew and the cormorants skim the water and catch fish in their beaks and then bring the fish back to the fisherman. Now, here's the non-SPCA component: the fisherman ties a rope around the bird's neck so that it can only swallow little fish but not the big fish. This way, everyone gets fed!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Great Wall of China

Today we visited the Great Wall. This amazing wonder of the world is 6,400 km long. The easiest part for tourists to visit is about 70 km from Beijing. It is so easy, that 100,000 people visit the wall every day! I know I use the word, "amazing" too often, but this truly is. In this picture, off to the right of me are just a few of those thousands trekking up the final piece before reaching watchtower #8 at Badaling. Last night I badly stubbed my toe and as it was complete black and blue this morning, we decided not to walk from watchtower #1 to the top. That trek would take about three hours. Instead, we opted for taking the gondola to tower #7 and then just climbed the last piece. It was a glorious day. Today is Saturday, and even in Beijing, it was blue sky. When people aren't commuting to work, the smog is considerably less. In fact, Beijingers are dealing with smog in several ways. First, during the Olympics, each day, they only allowed even or odd licenses to drive on even and odd days. Now, they don't allow two final digits to commute each day, thus cutting traffic by 20%. I find myself saying, "those clever Chinese" too often.

Anyway, millions of people built the wall. And millions died there and are buried beneath the wall. A truly stupendous undertaking.

The coordination of enabling 100,000 people to visit the wall every day is also stupendous. And, it all works. We saw thousands of buses. We've felt so spoiled as we've had local guides for our tour. And they are the nicest, well spoken people...excited to have jobs and to practice their English. Here's Nancy. (They always take English names, although frankly, I enjoyed her Chinese name better: Luodan. I've encouraged all the guides we've had so far, to use their Chinese names instead of using English names like Susan, Helen, or Nancy. If they are going to use English names, at least they should be using contemporary names like Camilla or Arden!)

Lo and behold, even in Badaling, there is American comfort. Starbucks are EVERYWHERE! And, they too are packed. The Chinese now love coffee. We, on the other hand have been tea snobs for years, drinking green tea. But today, with 35 degree weather, we succumbed to the familiar....Major's favorite Coffee Mocha.
Tomorrow....Guilin at 7 in the morning. Must get some sleep.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Loving China

Before doing two more survey presentations, Major and I have taken a few days off to visit Shanghai and some of the smaller towns: Suzhou and Zhouzhuang. I do love the country. Shanghai is just another big city. Tremendous growth and just now starting to pay attention to preserving some of the lovely neighborhoods and its traditions.
Here's a few pictures:
1. Major and Lexy at the famous tea house in Shanghai
2. The Venice of China: Zhouzhuang
3. Papa and Nonny at Jinmao Tower
4. Missing found my first white kitty
More later.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Indian Generosity Knows No Bounds

I've had a great visit with new friends in Delhi that I've made while presenting the CedarCrestone Asia Pacific HR Systems Survey. Is there an acronym there? CAPHRSS? Darn....just doesn't role off the tongue. I will write on my observations, but what I want to write about now is the incredible generosity of so many Indians I've had contact with the last six days. Last night was exceptional and I have a little story.

If you come to India, at least once, you will go shopping. The way you do this is to arrange to have a driver who will take you to special places (identified by friends or the hotel) where the crafts are authentic and perhaps even the prices are set. Of course, haggling for an item is fun too. So last night a colleague and I set out to visit several shopping areas. I was looking for puppets for my grandchildren. Kirsten, who had had a bout of Delhi Belly all day was along for the ride. Kirsten is delightful....everyone loves her immediately. Without too much detail, I successfully haggled for some items as gifts, and then we arrived at the Cottage Industries Emporium

This is a special place that brings in handcrafts from all over India. And, as my eye was drawn first to a small Buddha head, I began to make a connection with the man helping me and he with me. I also found a Buddha head for Major. Then, I asked if they had thangkas. I spent the next minutes looking at over 50 and finally settled on an exquisite mandala type. (By the way, I am a practicing Buddhist meditator and a member of the Auburn Sanga and this gentleman too, a Buddhist). As we started to leave, he suggested that we go downstairs to their "special items". Our bodies tired, but our eyes began to sparkle as we traipsed downstairs to be met by a room full of handmade rugs, pashminas, and anything made from fabric. Oh a quilter in a room of fabric.

The frenzy begins. The first item they showed me was an embroidered coat. Unfortunately it was not in my colors but it was Kirsten's so she tried it on. It was gorgeous. The picture does not do justice to the embroidery and the feel of this silk coat. It was "only $350."
She loved it and we all encouraged her to buy it. She, however, is a single mother, living in Singapore, and had not budgeted for something like this. But, it was truly a buy of a life time but even with much encouragement, Kirsten said she could not afford it .... until next year. Here's where just one example of generosity comes in. The owner of the Emporium told her to take the coat and pay him next year! Tired sick lady she was, started to cry. He gave her the coat and trusts her to pay him. Of course she will. I cried too.

We happily with my purchases (two Buddha heads, the thangka, a patchwork runner, a little Ganesh elephant for my grandson and miscellaneous small items needing a big bag....they gave me a duffle). We tiredly returned to the hotel to go to bed.

I had started to pack when Kirsten called, saying that the store had called apologizing that they had neglected to pack the heads and the thangka. I really was tired to have not overseen the duffle packing plus all of the store people and Kirsten and I were so excited by the trust of the store owner in giving the coat to her for her to pay for later. So, then the owner comes to our hotel and delivers the gift items.

I confess that sometimes in NY and other cities with an abundance of foreign speaking taxi drivers....perhaps from Pakistan or perhaps from India...that I've not had the greatest trust. I will NEVER NEVER not trust these generous people again.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Indians ask the most challenging questions

So, here I am in Mumbai, presenting the results of a survey done in Asia on the state of HR technology adoption. Its part of a series of presentations about talent management and business intelligence.

So one question was: could an organization have been able to predict the likelihoood of the demise of Lehman? A provacative question that eventually had us all deciding emphatically that technology can not counter individual foibles such as greed.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Indian kids better educated....says a 12 year old

On the plane from Delhi to Mumbai tonight, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Eera, a 12 year old, VERY articulate and composed young woman. Our conversation was wide reaching and, of course, I loved her when she said I didn't look as old as I am. She'd asked if she could ask a personal question.

Anyway, one of our conversations was about her belief, from speaking with her father, an aeronautical engineer, that Indian schools are much harder than ours. During the 7th grade, she said she will have 74 different courses from math and science to Hindu and English literature and everything in between. She believes that our kids can sue the school if they are given homework that takes more than 30 minutes to complete.

What an image she has of us. Let's pray for an end to the last 8 years of dumbing down.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Prime Minister to India Inc: Refrain from layoffs

This morning's Hindustan Times has this headline and request to corporate India: "While every effort needs to be made to cut costs and raise productivity, I hope there will be no knee-jerk reaction such as large scale layofffs which may lead to a negative spiral." This in a meeting with "business honchos" in which the country's "top macroeconomic managers confabulated for over two hours with industry leaders." I love the message and the words....honchos ... confabulated.

Also on the front page is, of course, our election along with the perceived stance by Obama and McCain on Outsourcing, India, Pakistan, and Nuclear Policy. The summary statement on outsourcing: "Rough times ahead for India's $40 billion outsourcing industry, still growing at a 25% annual clip. Obama will try retaining tech jobs in the US. McCain says all the right things from India's point of view, but if he wins at a time when job losses are accelerating, he may be hard pressed to walk the talk." Obama is more protective. It is, of course, a tough line to walk.... take advantage of what the world has to offer and have access to the world's customers .... essentially putting up no walls around our economy vs. keep jobs at home. to some meetings in Delhi.

It's all about growth and education in India

It's amazing that on Friday one can be home in Meadow Vista, CA and then two days later in Delhi, India driving to the Taj Mahal. From the comfort and ease of home to the excitement, heavy population, and totally different culture from flying half way round the road. I get one day off before working and chose to go to the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort of Agra. 50,000 people a day visit the Taj Mahal and at one moment, I think I was in touch with all of them as we struggled into the Taj to view the tomb replica of the Emporor and his favorite wife. Its a beautiful place and we were here today in relatively great weather...90 and clear.

The drive to the Taj Mahal pounds home the breadth of life in India, from
to here. And both of these were once someone's dream.

The one thing that really captivated me today though is that there are so many institutes. On the 220 km road from Delhi to Agra, we would pass a technical institute or a hotel management school or some medical school or even little kid schools and private schools. This country is definitely into educating its people. And everyone is an entrepreneur, whether it is a child dancing for rupees, a man with bulls that demands payment to have your picture taken with them, to your guide, to..... This is a very vital, growing country.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Getting ready to leave for India

I can't believe that tomorrow night I leave for India and then on to China and that I'll be working there. I am so excited. I'll be posting pictures and making comments on the HR systems environment, so check back.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wine in the Foothills

Saturday was the day to pick grapes at our neighborhood winery co-op, Mandolfo Wines. Major and I have "bought into" the co-op and get 5 cases a year. Of course, we have to work for our wine, so Saturday, along with 50 others, we picked grapes and I helped cook. A great day. The crop will be greater. I'll try to get a picture of the wine stomping...several of the ladies dressed up in Lucille Ball outfits...very hilarious.

And then we went for a ride up to Nevada City to see the leaves. Here's a picture of our yard....and the new house color....finally painted!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My new orange door

I really have NO TIME for blogging, or twittering....but to avoid being a grandma dinosaur, I guess I must. Actually it's fun to think about the intersection of quilting, surveys, blogging, and twitter. My concern is that now I've started a blog, Paul Boutin, Wired, says it's time has passed! Yikes...I guess I started four years too late. However, as someone who has worked with emerging technologies for almost 30 years, I suspect blogging will stay. And, besides the quilting community has just discovered it!

Today was my day to finish the first draft of the APAC survey....done. So I walked out into my garden which is an absolute mess. But, my dear dear husband has done something really nice. He had the door to my potting shed painted my favorite color. Isn't this incredible?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The first quilt sent to Japan

I've always loved the feel of Japanese fabrics, especially the cottons. They are heavier than most of the cottons you can buy in the US. They are also very, very soft. They hang beautifully. The first quilt I made with all Japanese fabrics is this one.

I call it CIRCLE PLAY. I took a class with Reynola Pakusich and then made this quilt. I was not only playing with the circles, but also the background and trying to give a sense that the angle lines on the right were weaving in and out of the left angles. I entered this quilt in the Japanese quilt festival in 2008 and was invited to send my quilt to Japan for judging. Unfortunately, this quilt was not accepted. But I learned a lot from the process. One must be absolutely perfect in all aspects and while I love the look of this quilt, it had one flaw. We gave this quilt to dear friends this year.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I am SO PROCRASTINATING today to get some work done. Don't I deserve one down day? But just had to share this and besides it's my favorite color.

And, credit where credit is due.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Finished Katazome pieced top's been a month since I tried my hand at blogging. Just no time with the survey. But I needed a break and so made a new quilt. I've finished the top.
This one is made from Katazome fabric from Nautilus FiberArt . It is worth seeing how Katazome is made.
It's a Japanese method of dying fabrics that uses a resist paste applied through a stencil. Nautilus does this the "old way" and the resulting fabric has the most wonderful feel and look. Karen Miller is a true artist.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Day One

There are two parts of my life I want to share. 1. Quilting...specifically, my love of Japanese fabrics and Japanese quilting; 2. CedarCrestone HR Systems Survey results. At the moment, I am procrastinating on the survey results until Major gives me some stats, so I want to focus on #1.
This morning, I spent a few minutes on my current quilt. One made entirely from hand-dyed indigo. Blue is not my favorite color, but these fabrics are really great to work with. Susan Faeder from Quilters Express to Japan has this wonderful fabric club and sends packets every other month. The one I'm working with has these incredible blues and whites. I'll post a picture from my wall as soon as possible.

But now, it's back to survey work.