Learning and Innovation

Over the last few months I have had the opportunity to lead pilot projects related to Learning and Innovation. The exposure that these projects have provided in terms of Knowledge Management has been significant.

Innovation is often connected with big inventions, technological breakthroughs, and super smart people even though we know that in reality that it is also so much more about everyday functions. It is in capturing knowledge that we can discover what our teams already know and use that knowledge to be more innovative.

When I started working on the projects, I had to set aside a full day just to understand the concepts of Knowledge Management. Not only was the subject fascinating, the significance of Knowledge Management being such a vital step to Learning and Innovation became very obvious.

You might already know what Knowledge Management is but I am going to try to describe it here. It is defined as the efficient handling of knowledge – not data or information – but knowledge. That includes the tacit insights that are a consequence of working in a field or role for some time. But how do you work to capture that within your company was the question we were trying to address for our organization.

We designed pilot projects to try and capture knowledge points within the organization. The pilot projects were collaborative and one was competitive. The projects were designed to encourage knowledge sharing in different ways. The projects were designed following the principle of Human Centered Design, keeping the end-user involved and gathering feedback throughout the pilot.

The collaborative projects included Communities of Practice which allowed teams to engage in intentional yet informal in a shared domain. We used some virtual meeting platforms since global teams participated. The competitive learning platform was an Innovation Forum competition, which offered global teams the opportunity to present innovative solutions they had tested in the last two years. The responses to all the projects was very positive. These projects were bridging learning gaps that would allow teams to be more efficient and agile.

The projects we led were successful but we realized that the real challenge would lie in developing and sustaining an innovative culture within the organization. That would need a shift in the way we function. Certain bureaucratic systems would need to be eliminated. More trust would have to be established. Failure will need to be considered as more of a learning step instead of a taboo or it will hinder success. We will need to be smarter about recognizing  successful innovation and rewarding it. This would encourage people to continue innovating.

Most of the pilot projects continued on to become ongoing initiatives at larger scales. This is just the beginning of a cultural shift towards innovation and the possibilities are exciting!


Share your experiences with TOM. Email editor@theoverseasmagazine.com

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“Wrong” party attires make better stories

This is just a lighthearted post but do you remember showing up to a party dressed in the ‘wrong’ dress code? It shouldn’t be hard to recall. It’s one of those memories that remain pretty fresh in our minds.

If you know anything about India, you know that Indians are known for their colorful and often OTT dress sense.

When I moved to Atlanta, I was invited to a party at a friend’s house. At that time, they were ‘new’ friends and whenever I had been over to their house, they were very casually dressed. In fact I would feel overdressed whenever we met. So when they invited me to the new year’s eve party at their house and said it was a casual party, I decided to show up dressed casually.

My husband had to work that evening and I decided to try to connect with my new community. I put on my new ninja hoodie and jeans and showed up. You guessed right if you are thinking that was the wrong dress code for the evening.

Everyone at the party was dressed up. Since it was a house party, there weren’t many options of hiding this one out. Most of the people at the party were complete strangers that night but I knew I would meet most of them again. They also had a lot of questions about India. I tried to stay at the top of my conversation game to compensate for the incorrect attire. It is funny to look back on it now but it was an awkward evening.

When my husband lived in India, he had a similar incident (made for each other you see), except that he was overdressed in Indian attire at a wedding lunch party. Everyone else at the party, including the groom had shown up in a casual day suit or just a formal shirt and jeans and my husband showed up in an Indian kurta. Needless to say, every one at the wedding commented on his attire which made for a really funny story.

So when you live in a new culture, how do you decide what the right party attire is, especially, when you aren’t surrounded by friends who can advice you? I guess you can just make the best assumption. Next time I am planning to take the middle road – nothing too casual and not overly dressy. If it still makes for a funny story, just remember it for the laughs.


Share your stories with The Overseas Magazine. Email editor@theoverseasmagazine.com

For the love of Bollywood music!

I have intentionally listened to more Bollywood songs during my two and a half years living in Atlanta than ever before. I have actually searched for Bollywood hits on YouTube and looked up a few fun songs that are commonly heard during every puja festival in Kolkata. I have even watched Bollywood movies on Netflix.

I know many of you enjoy Bollywood music. I have a few favorites too and I obviously listened to a few of them while writing this post. Some of them even got my husband dancing.

Omshantiom

In India, you can hear Bollywood songs playing all the time. That’s one reason why I didn’t need to search for them on YouTube. You can hear them on TV, during auto rides homes, even at some tea stalls over their small radios while you sipped tea. I could hear them playing in the neighbor’s house in the evenings and of course during the many local festivals.

Somehow the scandalous clothing in the song videos do not draw many protests from families as long as the music is catchy. But when the music is slow with less scandalous outfits and dance steps – you can’t really watch those with your family without feeling slightly uncomfortable. I believe that the upbeat music and often hilarious dance steps blinds us to everything else.

Years ago my family and I had visited Mumbai (or Bombay as it called then). We visited Film City and watched the shooting of a Bollywood movie scene. That was an exciting trip! We were star struck even though we didn’t really meet any of the popular stars. We also hoped to run into superstar Shahrukh Khan during that trip but all we managed to see was the boundary walls of his house.

yadoon ki baratBollywood music has evolved through the decades. I read recently that the first Hindi sound film, Alam Ara released in 1931 featured seven songs. One movie from those earlier times had 42 song sequences! Some songs that were produced during the times of our grandparents are still cherished today. You may have watched the 5 minute video about the evolution of Bollywood music but watch it again. It’s worth your time: Evolution of Bollywood Music – Penn Masala. I bet you know all the songs that Penn Masala captures in this video. zoobi doobi

I don’t quite have the patience to watch some Bollywood movies because of the movie length and number of songs but there are definitely movies that are worth spending 3 hours over. Thanks to Netflix for featuring a few good ones these days. Hopefully better ones will be added to the list.

In case you’re wondering, these are some of the songs that I listened to while writing this: Chammak Challo (Ra One), Zoobi-Doobi (3 Idiots), Dhoom Tana (Om Shanti Om), Aaj ki raat (SRK’s Don). The featured photo on this post is SRK’s Chammak Challo – the movie wasn’t that great but the song is super catchy! You must have heard them all and some of you even played them in your head as you read the titles.

I think this post calls for a Bollywood movie weekend!


Send your stories to editor@theoverseasmagazine.com. We would love to hear from you!

Our World – June 2017

Here’s how June 2017 wrapped up in a few countries around the world:

USA

A doctor went on a shooting spree yesterday killing another doctor and injuring several at a New York hospital. Read more…

Canada

Canada is celebrating 150 years! Thousands of people gathered at an intersection in the Canadian city of Winnipeg to create the country’s “largest living maple leaf”. Read more…

maple leaf
Image credit: BBC News

Read about: Eat: Canada (Restaurant recommendations – Cambridge Ontario)

India

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi announced that the goods and services tax (GST) is yet another measure after demonetisation that was aimed at cleansing the country’s economy. Read more…

Read about: Eat: India (Restaurant recommendations – Calcutta)

Read about: Eat: India (Restaurant recommendations – Delhi)

Niger

Bombers killed two people and wounded 11 others at a U.N.-managed camp in Niger housing thousands of people who have fled Boko Haram violence in the first suicide attack in the region in a year, the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday. Read more…

Romania

Romania’s new Government plans to drop the current 16% tax on company profits and replace it with a tax on turnover starting January 1, 2018, according to the new governing program presented by the PSD-ALDE coalition. Read more…

Syria

The Syrian government on Saturday dismissed a report by the international chemical weapons watchdog that said the banned nerve agent sarin was used in an April attack in northern Syria, saying it lacked “any credibility”. Read more… 


Our World – June 2017

What do people who thrive overseas have in common?

My father says you remember the smell of your country no matter where you are but only recognize it when you’re far away.

Aglaja Veteranyi, Warum das Kind in der Polenta kocht

I am putting this book in my to-read list because my dad often quotes a similar phrase in Bengali.

Homesickness has ruined several overseas experiences. If you have friends or family who live away from home, you must have seen their social media posts describing their homesickness. Different people deal with homesickness and unfamiliarity quite differently. Over the last few months I have been making notes about a few habits that help people thrive overseas despite their homesickness and circumstances.

Firstly I observed that you don’t need to be an extrovert in order to thrive overseas. So this post is applicable for both extroverts and introverts.

A determination to thrive

People who thrive seem to relentlessly pursue the best life they can have irrespective of where they live. People leave home for so many reasons – the adventure of trying something new, to be with family, for work, to answer a calling. The people we spoke to and read about, described times of overwhelming challenges or incidents of extreme homesickness but their determination to thrive carried them through.

They practice contentment

They are able and willing to maintain a positive attitude when dealing with the uncertain and the unfamiliar. They view the unfamiliar as fun instead of as intimidating. Fear is replaced by excitement. They also embrace their limitations, whether it’s their personality, illness, slow learning, they remain patient.

Read related: My struggles with depression while living overseas

They enjoy new food options

It’s not so hard to try new food options but when that new food becomes the regular option, it not always easy to thrive. Numerous struggles stem from the inability to adapt to new food habits. Finding food options that are close to comfort food have helped many adjust to the new tastes and textures quicker.

An open mind and desire to learn

Learn new cultures, language, lifestyle and habits without passing judgement all the time. A desire to learn and eagerness for exposure to new things is pretty vital to embracing the new experiences that life throws our way. An intentional appreciation for the new community and culture and not being a loner makes them thrive.

Read related: Tips for Overseas Living – Be a Learner

Not losing sight of the purpose for moving

Those who thrive overseas stay motivated by not losing sight of the purpose for moving. They avoid getting distracted with random incidents and emotions, episodes of homesickness, complicated relationships or small setbacks.

The more I think about these the more I realize that some of these habits are good to practice no matter where you live but they come in a lot more handy when you’re away from home.


final-3

Author: The Overseas Magazine Editor

 

 

 

We would love to hear your travel and living overseas stories. Learn more bout writing for TOM here.

Atlanta’s MARTA trains

For the past nine months I worked at a company that was around 17 miles (27kms) from where we live in Atlanta. Given my fear of driving on Atlanta highways and the desire to escape Atlanta rush hour traffic snarls, I used the MARTA trains to travel to and from work.

Read related: Driving basics: India and the US

MARTA stands for Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority and is the main form of public transportation in Atlanta. MARTA trains and bus routes in Atlanta are a convenient way to get around the city if you don’t mind walking to and from the stops.

Every user needs a breeze card to use the MARTA service. These cards can be purchased very easily at the pay machines outside MARTA train stations. If you need to use the bus, you will need to buy your card at one of the main bus stations or any train station. Breeze cards can be topped up with cash value for rides either online or at any station. Rides are most economical if you can buy “rides” instead of selecting the “add cash” option. Some pay machines don’t offer the option to buy rides, so check online if you’re planning to use the card regularly.

Inside the station or at the bus stop, you will find the routes and ride options displayed. If you’re unsure, just ask the driver or MARTA staff or another passenger. The first time I used the MARTA, I met a kind elderly gentleman who gave me directions and it was really easy.

I learnt a few lessons about the trains and ways to make the most of my one hour rides every day.

Most trains have a recorded announcement which you can listen to to track your stop but sometimes there aren’t any announcements and you need to pay attention to the station chart or the station signs. Of course there are some drivers who like to make the announcement themselves and that’s usually interesting. Some make it fun and some talk loud and non-stop.

The most crowded train compartments are usually the ones closest to the entrance stairs since a lot of people make it just in time and rush in to the closest open train door.

The seats closest to the train doors are usually reserved for senior citizens, pregnant women and people with special needs. Check your seat before you sit down because some of them have food and drink spills or other stains.

In the mornings, you can find a few homeless people sleeping soundly on their seats. And sometimes there are people who are loud and clearly high on substances. All of them contribute to interesting train rides.

One morning, a gentleman sang loudly and out of tune for a while. We all noticed him – dressed for work and seemed all right. The compartment was crowded and his singing was not entertaining after a while. We heard someone say something to him and I didn’t hear what it was but I heard his loud reply. He laughed and said that he couldn’t stop singing because he had been homeless and hopeless for so long and he had finally found a job. He knew God was turning his life around. He had so much joy that people started cheering him on as he sang and shared his story. It was a pretty neat ride after that!

Even the most crowded trains offer plenty of standing space. Since the train stops at every station, people board and get off frequently and it’s usually easy to find an empty seat. Trains are air conditioned and usually colder than I prefer but wearing a light sweater helps.

My favorite part about the daily one hour ride was to find a comfortable seat with some uninterrupted reading time.  I’ve always enjoyed reading but in the last few months, I read more books, magazines and comics than I had in all of 2016!

MARTA rides are also great opportunities to catch up on planning and life reflections. You can see people staring out of the windows even inside tunnels. Some listen to music or watch videos offline. Quite naturally, phone and internet services don’t work inside tunnels.

Check the timings and routes on the MARTA website and try it the next time you’re in Atlanta!


The featured image was TOM’s Facebook cover photo for a while and features the MARTA overhead tracks at the West End station.

Our World: May 2017

USA

An argument between a Mississippi man, his estranged wife and her family over custody of the couple’s children ended in a shooting that killed eight people, including a deputy sheriff. Read more…

China

Police in China and Vietnam will strengthen exchanges of intelligence and evidence, and conduct joint investigations and exercises in a bid to smash large cross-border human trafficking rings. Read more… 

India

India and Germany signed a slew of about 12 agreements covering cyber security, urban development and vocational education, digitization, infrastructure etc, during the formal session of the bilateral inter-governmental consultations (IGC) here on Tuesday. Read more… 

Kabul

Kabul blast killed 80 this morning. No group has taken responsibility for the attack. Read more…

South Korea

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has ordered a probe after the Defence Ministry failed to inform him that four more launchers for the controversial U.S. THAAD anti-missile system had been brought into the country. Read more… 

Germany

German police have arrested a teenage asylum seeker suspected of planning a suicide attack in Berlin. Read more…

Nigeria

Nigerian officials say the 82 young women released by Boko Haram extremists this month are now joining those already freed in a special rehabilitation program. Read more…


Our World: May 2017