Note to recruiters

Note to recruiters: We are quite aware that recruiters, interviewers, VCs and other professionals generally perform a Google Search before they interview someone, take a pitch from someone, et cetera. Please keep in mind that not everything put on the Internet must align directly to one's future career and/or one's future product portfolio. Sometimes, people do put things on the Internet just because. Just because. It may be out of their personal interests, which may have nothing to do with their professional interests. Or it may be for some other reason. Recruiters seem to have this wrong-headed notion that if somebody is not signalling their interests in a certain area online, then that means that they are not interested in that area at all. It is worth pointing out that economics pretty much underlies the areas of marketing, strategy, operations and finance. And this blog is about economics. With metta, let us. by all means, be reflective about this whole business of business. Also, see our post on "The Multi-faceted Identity Problem".

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ask the Delphic Oracle

To skip the talk and go straight to this month's main puzzle, just click on the Indiatimes article (linked here) and scroll all the way down.

Indiatimes' main page carried an edited version of this article on Operations Management and the applications of mathematical analytics there.

Ask the Delphic Oracle
“Ask the Delphic Oracle” is a new column in the Times of India. As part of this column, we plan to run a new puzzle every month. We will allow three to four weeks for you to solve the puzzle. Please write in with your answers to: We will publish the names of the people who answered the puzzle correctly (randomly chosen out of the first fifty). Good luck!
Ask The Oracle:
Q. I am an Australian in California. I have noticed that a lot of Indians here drive Toyotas. Why do so many Indians drive Toyotas?
Answer. While we put our business analyst hats on, may we point out that there are excellent reasons to own a Toyota? The main reason is, of course, the quality of the car. But how is Toyota able to produce cars of such high quality? Behind the answer to this question lies the story of the machine that changed the world.
Before there were Hondas and Toyotas, there were Fords. The big idea that Henry Ford came up with was that of the assembly line. Henry Ford realized that if you organize a car factory floor like a meat packing assembly line where each worker gets to specialize on one piece of the job, then the productive efficiency dramatically increases. From this was born the modern automobile assembly operations setup, the machine that changed the world.  The Ford automobile assembly operations setup was further improved upon by the Toyota Motor Company by means of the Toyota Production System. The Toyota Production System consists of a unique combination of social and technical processes that makes it possible for them to create very high quality cars with low rates of failure. This makes Toyotas cheap to own in terms of total cost of ownership and easy to maintain, but this is clear only after you have been educated on many different aspects of the matter of car ownership. Although Toyotas are expensive to buy, they pay off in the long term, and have low total cost of ownership. It is not surprising then that Indians in America, given their high level of price sensitivity, like to own Toyotas.
The Oracle Asks:
Why are Toyota cars of such good quality? Why are shipping containers sometimes sent halfway across the world half full? Why do clothing stores such as Pantaloon and J. C. Penny have so many extra trousers sitting around on shelves? If the average expected sales of iPads is 100 units per month, does it make sense for a store to have more than a hundred tablets in stock? These and many other questions may be answered using operations management techniques.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In tribute to Martin Gardner

I have recently begun a column for the Times of India. It is called "Ask the Delphic Oracle". It was meant to be a general interest column, but for now, it is going to be a puzzle column. The column is in collaboration with Prof. Krishnan Shankar. Prof. Shankar is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oklahoma. (If you have the time and inclination, you should pay a visit to the University of Oklahoma's Math Club webpage and blog. The blog is terrific and it even has some posts on Martin Gardner and his links to Norman and the University of Oklahoma.) This column is partly in tribute to Martin Gardner. The first piece is on mathematics and operations management ... oh, we'll just let you read it.

About Prof. Shankar

Krishnan Shankar (Ravi to friends) is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oklahoma. His professional trajectory started in Mumbai at Ruparel through Reed College in Portland, Oregon and the University of Maryland, College Park where he obtained his Ph.D under Karsten Grove in differential geometry. Besides the elegant poetry of mathematics, he loves yoga, cooking, spending time with friends and family among many other things. His latest creation is by far his best and most demanding: his 8 month old daughter, Sophie Mallika, who renews his sense of the miraculous on a daily basis.

About me

Anand Manikutty got his undergraduate degree in Computer Science from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, something for which he still gets ribbed by his friends. He has pursued graduate work at the University of Wisconsin and the Harvard Business School. He worked as a software developer and architect for several years, and has published in a number of areas of computer science. He is a technology entrepreneur and inventor, holding over 15 patents in the area of computer technology, and splits time between Monterey and the crazy, exciting San Francisco Bay Area.