Lego Mindstorms Workshop

On the 12th of May (Saturday) we will run a session from 12:30 PM – 2 PM for children (ideally between the ages of 7 & 15) at the Mississauga Valley Community Center. Parents (or at minimum one parent) are strongly advised to join their children. We will have a couple of pre-built robots so there would be no “robot building” per se but the focus will be more on programming. The children will be able to see the impact of their programming on the behavior of the robot itself. The first 1 hour will be about different programming challenges. So to make the most of that – you need to only bring along your laptop with the software installed which can be found on the following link: https://education.lego.com/en-us/downloads/mindstorms-ev3/software

After that their will be a small presentation around FLL (http://www.firstlegoleague.org) and future possibilities of running a mini-robotics program over the course of the summer. We can also discuss the possibilities of building a team so as to be able to take part in the FLL competition (Ontario Region): http://www.firstroboticscanada.org/fll/fllontario/. More details about the FLL can be found on the following link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIRST_Lego_League

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. Please fill out the form below and in the Comments please provide the names of the children and their ages. Registration will be on a first come first serve basis (limited to 15 families to accommodate for space).

“Analytics ____ ” Google Scholar

Two years back, I was doing research for my MBA Thesis (Smart Cities: Data, Algorithms, Connectivity, and Smart Citizens) to see how popular analytics was in the context of smart cities and municipalities. So I would do a key word search “Analytics municipality” and it would give me the number of articles / research papers where it was referred. It was by no means the perfect measure but gave a rough feel and idea of what was out there. So this time around I used the word “analytics” with different verticals to see varying popularity. Turns out that most literature is in the domain of marketing.

No surprises there since major e-commerce companies (did I say Amazon?) have shifted from “guts” to actual analytics to determine usage patterns and recommendation systems (similar to the ones my friend Zia Babar conducts his meetups on) to recommend products to visitors.

Top 11

Recently a friend asked me for a list of books that I could recommend to read. So I thought I would just add it to my blog for all those times when someone might ask me the same question again. So here are the top 11 books – do note that they are of varying interest and are intended for a general audience with no specific background. I think the books listed below can prove to be very useful. If it was to me – I would even have a couple of them added to the high school curriculum and make sure that everyone stepping their foot into the practical word has actually read them. Even in the seminars that I am invited to – I end up referring to these books or making a part of them to be a part of my seminar.

  1. Think and Grow Rich
    My all-time favorite book. This is the single most book that I have gifted to friends and family. If you ever received this book from me – it was a clear indication that you were/are a part of my inner circle. 🙂  Also I feel this book forms the basis of all motivation books that have been written after that. Also the title is a bit misleading – essentially it is about how to achieve whatever goal you set in your life. Some may find their riches in Money, others in Social help, others in family … you get to pick your poison.
  2. Creating a World without poverty
    I am highly inspired by the concepts of Social Empowerment and Microfinance. As the pioneer of these concepts is Nobel Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus – this book naturally gravitates to my Top 11.
  3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
    The one thing that I absolutely love about this book is “The Circle of Influence” – how it is so important to stay in our circle of influence to stay happy and make an actual impact. Also the example of filling your life with big stones and then the smaller stones and after that the sand. The analogy being that the big stones are the ones which really matter and should take precedence over everything else in our life.  
  4. How to win friends and influence people
    It was always a struggle growing up to be able to make friends. An old time classic – I think this was probably the first “Self Help” book that I read to address the issue of making friends.
  5. The Richest Man of Babylon
    Set in Babylon – this book weaves a story around the steps a character in the book must take to make a fortune and the mindset that he needs to develop in the process of doing so.
  6. The Art of War
    Written by the great warrior Sun Tzu in ancient China – the book has many lessons for your personal life and business life. You could apply the concepts presented by Sun Tzu in any modern day situation to determine the outcome. Since I have always been influenced by the Chinese hence it naturally influenced my thought process 🙂
  7. Our Iceberg is Melting
    A book which you can easily finish in 3-4 hours. It has very important lessons about how to see the change that is likely to come about, and how different people react to these changes. Changes can be extrapolated to personal life and are also applicable for large organizations.
  8. Your Money or your life
    Some may find this book repulsive and a violation of their right to enjoy life but it has some great hard lessons brought forward by the author on how in order to maintain a life style we continue to work more and waste our time. Though many have explained the concept of the Rat Race but this one takes it down to the actual numbers to prove that life should be more than just running after a high paying job which leaves you with no time to enjoy life.
  9. Outliers
    Recommended by a friend when I did not know who Malcom Gladwell was. It eventually triggered me to read all books published by Malcom Gladwell. I remember the book for two things 1) How the birthday of hockey players are skewed 2) How the Chinese are so hard working and how easy the Chinese number system is.
  10. Start with Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action
    Just recently was recommended this book by a friend. Even though a lot of concepts/techniques like the “5 Whys” have a similar approach but the way Simon weaves the story is quite nice
  11. The Prince
    Recommended by a friend who wanted to show me the other side. I do not recommend you to be influenced by the “Machiavellian tactics” but read it to understand what the “Dark Side” will employ to get around to you.

Biryani Democracy

By: Saad Rahman & Atif Anwar

People around get all flared up when I use the term “Biryani Democracy”. Before I give you reasons behind it, let me first take this moment and coin the term. It is a combination of two unrelated genres. The first part is the interesting one – one which any South East Asian will understand right away. Biryani is an exotic Mughal era rice dish, essentially an elaborate twist on pilaf. The only historical link it has with Democracy is the lack of it, as it has origins in a time of Mughal emperors. Till this day it serves the modern day self-proclaimed royals of the south east we call politicians.

Biryani has become a vehicle of journey for several politicians in the region. Unlike the dictatorial tactics of their royal predecessors, the tools of persuasion are less hostile but cunning. Making a mockery of the widespread poverty, politicians use Biryani as their weapon to coerce the common man into submission; essentially trading a few plates of Biryani for a vote. As sad it may sound, the poor public does not ever see much in reforms. So instead, every few years they look forward to a week or two of heavenly feasts as they listen to the never ending promises made all over again by the same few elite. Alas, the vicious cycle repeats. This is the Biryani Democracy we live in.

In a nation where even the basics defined by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are a struggle for the lower and middle class, Biryani suffices to win over the masses. The word democracy is pasted on every media outlet, to keep the world at bay. But in reality, these few elite still run a kingdom.

There is still hope. We need to join those who are trying to flicker a ray of light in this darkness. Being an avid supporter and associated with some organizations I urge all to look around and find what you believe will bring about a change. Amongst a few such organizations are TCF Foundation, Sawayra, Kashf Foundation, Asasah and BRAC Pakistan.

The Economist – Amazon vs Walmart

Some time back – actually quite a lot “some time back”, I was part of the team representing TED Rogers MBA at the Real Vision Investment Case Study hosted by  The Economist,  Which MBA?

Following are details of everything that I know  regarding the competition and just wanted to have it compiled in one place for easy reference.

Our Solution
Supporting Video  (5 Minutes) [Remember to maximize the video]Press Coverage in Globe & Mail
Press Coverage in Market Wired
What the judges had to say

 

BABOK V3 is here!

From 2005 to 2015, the BABOK has come a long way and has been the result of the efforts put in by many volunteers and industry practitioners.

I guess it would not be incorrect to state that the main essence for V3 is around the same foundations laid in V2. The most significant changes are for Enterprise Analysis, the adding of the 5 perspectives and the overall techniques that been increased to 50. In addition the focus for some of the techniques have been changed.

A general feel is that it is not as much IT specific (the BSA role) but has also tried to place a stronger emphasis on “true Business Analysis.”

Interesting choice of the word “Design” and as quoted by Watermark that Business Analyst’s can be involved in the design of processes and hence should not be an alien concept for a BA.

 Knowledge Areas

Though a one to one matching is difficult but for the purposes of this initial blog this has been done this way and I will continue to blog and pick more specific examples to showcase in times to come.

BABOK V2 BABOK V3
Business Analysis Planning & Monitoring Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring
Elicitation Elicitation and Collaboration
Requirements Management & Communication Requirements Life Cycle Management
Enterprise Analysis Strategy Analysis
Requirements Analysis Requirements Analysis and Design Definition
Solutions Assessment & Validation Solution Evaluation

Techniques

BABOK V2: 34
BABOK V3: 50

Techniques added in V3:

10.2 Backlog Management
10.3 Balanced Scorecard
10.6 Business Capability Analysis
10.7 Business Cases
10.8 Business Model Canvas
10.10 Collaborative Games
10.11 Concept Modeling
10.14 Data Mining
10.17 Decision Modelling
10.20 Financial Analysis
10.26 Item Tracking
10.29 Mind Mapping
10.33 Prioritization
10.34 Process Analysis
10.37 Reviews
10.39 Roles and Permissions Matrix
10.43 Stakeholder List, Map, or Personas
10.50 Workshops

Removed from V 2.0 or Renamed:

BABOK V2 BABOK V3
9.2 Benchmarking 10.4 Benchmarking and Market Analysis
9.5 Data Dictionary and Glossary 10.12 Data Dictionary
10.23 Glossary
9.15 Lessons Learned Process 10.27 Lessons Learned
9.24 Risk Analysis 10.38 Risk Analysis and Management
9.26 Scenarios and Use Cases 10.47 Use Cases and Scenarios
9.29 State Diagrams 10.44 State Modelling

Perspectives

Fresh perspectives have been added and I think they address the needs and how a BA can utilize them in an engagement.

These have been added in the hope that almost all initiatives are more than likely to have any one component of the perspectives addressed. To directly quote from the BABOK V3: “For example, an initiative may have a technology component (Information Technology Perspective), the technology component may mean business process changes (Business Process Management Perspective), the initiative may decide to do part, or all of the work with an agile approach (Agile Perspective). Another initiative may merge two organizations and need to look at the business capabilities and how the transformation impacts those capabilities (Business Architecture Perspective), and the business leaders need updated information for decision making and analysis (Business Intelligence Perspective).” (Ref Pg 367)

The other side

  • Pages: BABOK V3 (514) has 251 more pages than BABOK V2 (263).
  • Color combination: V3 uses 4 – 5 colors as against the black and white for V2. Text has more breathing space and readability has improved a lot.
  • The V3 PDF copy is clickable and you can get directly to a particular page. A good improvement over the PDF version of BABOK V2.0.

Stay tuned for more in times to come and do let me know your feedback.

PMP – Procurement Management made Easy

One of the major challenges that I came across while preparing for the PMP v5 was Procurement Management. To understand the different contracts and to determine when a particular contract is  selected – I translated it into a flow diagram. Through the flow diagram it became easy to determine that by selecting which option would eventually lead to which contract. This flow diagram is shared here Visio-Procurement Management_v02. If you find any errors in the flow diagram or have any comments regarding the diagram then please let me know or leave a comment below.

Oil Prices and Edmonton Housing

This post basically is about how events are inter related and how one event can trigger an event somewhere far off. Though I wanted to do a more detailed co-relation between housing prices in Edmonton and world oil prices but “perfect is the enemy of the good.” So I thought might as well share this post and then write up more in a follow up post. The graphs below show the oil crisis of 1979 and of 2008 which resulted in the spike that can be seen in the price of houses in Edmonton. It also goes on to reflect how vulnerable Edmonton as a city is based on purely oil (for some reason it reminds me of Klondike).
[Click the images below to see the data clearly]

Trend 1

Trend 2

Macrotrends.org_Crude_Oil_Price_History_Chart

So as prices of oil go higher globally my understanding is that the relatively expensive extraction from oil (tar) sands become economically feasible and hence driving economic activity in Alberta which is further enhanced by people moving to Edmonton. Other than the prices driven up by those migrating, it also in turns produces a positive vibe about the economy and hence people start buying houses which eventually drives the prices up (and further aggravated by the existing shortage of houses in Edmonton)

Though data provided is from Edmonton & Calgary but we can safely assume  that it applies to the whole of Alberta as well.

calgary housing bubble average price

In my stay in Edmonton I did see that the City has tried to make a shift into other domains (specially technology) but it still remains a mainly oil driven city. Hence for this reason even though 85% of the jobs generated in Canada in 2013 were in Alberta [Ref 1] [Ref 2] – it still remains an unstable destination but then so did the Wild West when a lot of folks moved from the East in order to explore better opportunities in the West.

References:
Why Perfect Is The Enemy Of Good
1979 Energy Crisis (Wikipedia)
T
he 2008 Oil Price Shock: Markets or Mayhem?
Housing Bubbles In Canada by City
Oil sands crude not as expensive to produce as it used to be
Oil Sands: The Costs of Alberta’s “Black Gold”

Andrew’s Scenic Acres

It was not one of your conventional birthday parties…once again Ikram and Hira planned yet another unique event for their daughter’s birthday.

On the outskirts of Halton Hills (reachable by 401 when you take the Trafalgar exit) is a farm called Andrew’s Scenic Acres and that was where the birthday party was planned. Though the weather got a bit chilly on a mid June Saturday afternoon but still with all the activities (ride on the trailer through the fields, picking strawberry and a guided tour with a guide who seemed to know anything and everything about farming) it was quite awesome (in Ikram’s favorite word). For me it was the ideal setting since I am also a strong believer of “Farmers feed cities” and one of my dreams to live on a farm but that is a post for another day.  Anyway back to the farm and the birthday itself….

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Farm Entry
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“Light refreshments”
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View of the fields from the trailer ride
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The “chai” which turned out to be really good!
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Natural produce at the store
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Andrews Acre Farms in the news
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The “pop up” gazebo