Below are all comments we have received so far (from a total of over 50 readers). To share your comments, please e-mail them to me.
The dynamics of the relationship between Sunny and Shubhangi coupled with their struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance speaks volumes on the kind of lives that employees lead today in the IT / ITES industry. So it was almost as if someone had lifted a scene from our ordinary, daily lives and replicated it in the book. Overall, a realistic teaching story interwoven with shades of office politics.
Raghunandan Sastry, Wipro Technologies :
…I remained glued to the book…[read full review…]
[read only excerpt…]Aligning Ferret impressed me with the characters and situations depicted realistically; and I could easily relate them to my experience. I remained glued to the book.
The concepts are so lucidly explained that the theory becomes a part of the thought process of a team involved in an organization. Hence the theory, framework and models are easily assimilated by the reader.
I also found intriguing the two simultaneous stories of Ferret as an organization and Sunny as an individual amazingly intertwined.
Deepak Kumar, Lead Architect at Mahindra Satyam :
…And I love this book…[read full review…]
[read only excerpt…]As a kid I always wanted a story to be told while I ate. So does my daughter, now. As I grew up, I’d smuggle storybooks and read in the classroom camouflaged as text books. I wrote stories for a living before becoming a consultant (now I tell ’em). And I love this book.
I am yet to come across a client who doesn’t like stories. If ever I wanted to be sure of implementing a management system and groom a manager I’d put them through Aligning Ferret first. Saves me half the change management effort and the managers will try to motivate me instead of the other way round.
What caught me was that it makes it seem easy for a manager to accomplish a business goal fairly complex as it is. This, despite the fact that the story spins you through the struggles of the protagonists. Thereby inspiring confidence in them. The book also primes the managers to align more easily to virtually any break-through programs, since the concepts cover a whole gamut. Even the senior managers – few of them are likely to have depth in both technical as well as people/leadership areas.
A new paradigm in learning.
R Venkata Ramana , Process Consultant at QAI India Ltd:
…I recommend this book for those who want to embark… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…]The concept of presenting an organizational scenario covering aspects of various process/ excellence is built in a subtle, day to day execution has helped me identify with the characters in the book and live their experiences.
There is an equal mix of different models, practical and thought provoking input where needed.
Overall, a good presentation of and I recommend this book for those who want to embark on a process improvement journey and also those who are are not realizing the benefits.
Aligning Ferret gives a very good perspective on how organizations should move from one maturity plane to another. The book gives you an experience of walking through an organization when it is growing. This book gives a clear career path for those in Quality Assurance seeking top management positions.
Vasudevan A , Independent Consultant, Bangalore:
…strategic planning, balance scorecard, people management etc are well twined with the story line and their importance is narrated with ease and sense of humor… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…]Aligning Ferret is all about aligning the thought process of anyone who wants to run or be a part of a world class organization. The readers are taken to a higher maturity in terms of management concepts. A must- read for all the budding entrepreneurs as well as executives at all levels in an organization.
The authors have consolidated best practices and learnings from their many years of IT consulting experience and presented them with practical scenarios in this novel-cum-concept book. The consolidation exercises at the end of each chapter make the readers think about alternate solutions/ approaches and relate them to their real life situations.
Concepts like strategic planning, balance scorecard, people menegement, etc are well twined with the story line and their importance is narrated with ease and sense of humor (like importance of communication through Chinese Whispers).
This book is an entertainer for everyone and a learning tool for IT professionals.
Sandeep Banerjee, Senior Consultant, QAI India Ltd:
…is also a reflection of how we approach problems – so much at a superficial level… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] The story in Aligning Ferret is close to what we find in our daily lives. The same chaos in personal matters and a similar set of issues at work. As we struggle to settle one issue, we find ourselves deep into another. This book is also a reflection of how we approach problems – so much at a superficial level, and then land ourselves into a spaghetti, and then again try to unwind and recover. The interesting thing to me as a consultant is to see the blend of the industry models fitting into the situations and turning the chaos into something more structured step by step. In particular the usefulness of People CMM in making Ferret realize what they have been missing all along.
The take home for me is to adopt the models to solve real problems of an organization.
Turab Lakdawala, Managing Director, Tempest Advertising Pvt Ltd:
Aligning Ferret is racy and simple. The beauty is in introducing planning concepts in the most practical way. It almost reads like a typical day in the reader’s own life. A definite read for not only managers but students entering the Corporate World.
Kalpana Singh, Process Consultant, QAI India Ltd:
…beautifully written business novel…strongly recommend the book as a good read… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Aligning Ferret is a beautifully written business novel, it explains models and concepts like PCMM and Balanced Scorecard in a simple manner without using any technical jargon. All the characters in the book are so life-like that its unbelievable. The book truly represents the life of most of IT professional, both at professional and personal front, the way we all try to balance our work and life. I felt as if I am watching a movie. Everyone would be able to associate the characters in the novel with their own bosses and colleagues, specially the description of the boss who has a strong case of selective hearing (which is the case with many bosses).
I am not a voracious reader, actually I don’t like reading books too much but this is one book that I could not put down till I finished it. It explains the right concepts at the right time in the right scenario – we normally focus too much on the overall impact of the model/ framework that we don’t actually focus so much on the subtle benefits that they bring in. In addition to the big business impacts, the models and the frameworks also give smaller and more powerful benefits and these actually add up to the overall larger benefits. This point is very well communicated in the book, specially the part of succession planning and KRA setting.
I wish I had a good command over the language (like the authors) so that I could write a better review. I would strongly recommend the book as a good read to others.
…insightful and the solutions are practical…must read for all Strategy Developers, Project Managers, Quality and HR professionals… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] In “Aligning Ferret”, we find people from our day-to-day professional life. One can also easily relate to the incidents narrated in the business novel. The underlining theme conveys how to deal with some extraordinary situations and how one finds it difficult to balance work-life. For example, someone’s vacation is canceled, the arrival of an unexpected guest making it difficult to manage the time, etc.
The instances/difficulties are portrayed so well that one can relate to similar events. Everyday program management problems and the situations that arise are described very well and any reader can find the answers through the suggested solutions.
The concepts found in “Aligning Ferret” are insightful and the solutions are practical. The book provides many ideas for the challenges in managing the projects and achieving organization-wide excellence. The reader gets a deeper understanding of various models like CMM, PCMM, MBNQA, Balanced Scorecard and how these standards/models/processes help an organization in its excellence journey are explained in detail. Most of the chapters in this book clearly bring out the depth of knowledge the authors have got on these models and concepts. For example, the authors explain what PCMM says in establishing a culture and transparency about things that influence motivation, performance management and compensation. Every organization works on the ideas proposed in this book,especially on the alignment between individual, functional and organizational goals that could result in synergy, faster cycle time, optimum use of resources and thus improved organizational excellence.
Overall, the book provides a clear understanding of the concepts of alignment and strategy to the Project Managers and gives an insight into the functioning/improvement of the dynamic business environment.
A must read for all Strategy Developers, Project Managers, Quality and HR professionals. Looking forward to an another even more interesting book from the authors based on their vast experience.
…Grrreat! a book that Indian IT needs is at last here… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Grrreat! a book that Indian IT needs is at last here, on the lines of Goldratt’s ‘Goal’ and DeMarco’s ‘Deadline’. Every character in it is relatable – Subhangi, Sharad and Akka sound very familiar. The narration is simple, crisp and 100% ‘story-in-the-next-cabin’. And interesting twists – like Sharad’s passion keep the reader engrossed. The teamwork and coordination between Sunny, Raman, Sheena, Tania, Rajiv, Col. Gulati is something to be learnt from.
The exercises put together could actually become a ‘three-day-course’. The book has definitely set an expectation for sequels.
Vivekananda Pedagada, Senior Executive – HR at HCL BPO :
…best part of this book lies in describing their implementation in real business scenarios… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] For me, “Aligning Ferret” is “Strategy Demystified” or “Strategy Simplified”.
I have never been an avid reader of books but ‘Aligning Ferret’ has been different, difficult to put down, once I started it. And now I know that strategy is more common sense than the extravaganza surrounding it in various management books.
Concepts like People CMM, Balanced Scorecard, Performance Management and Organizational Performance Alignment have been explained in a simple manner. The best part of this book lies in describing their implementation in real business scenarios.
Readers would be well educated & quiet amused as they journey through the life of the protagonist, Sunil Chinnappa, both at his office and home.
One cannot ask for a better way of learning trouble-shooting problems that arise in day-to-day business while keeping work-life balance.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. It is a must read for every management graduate and young manager.
Dr Devender Nath, Chairman,Rhodium Hunt and Rhodium Quest:
…tools to align every facet of business strategy… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] In Aligning Ferret, the authors discuss the unprecedented level of macroeconomic turbulence faced by the company Ferret and provide the tools to align every facet of business strategy, tactics and operations to reflect changing business conditions. Keeping in mind finance, supply chains,production, marketing, HR and more, the authors outline ways to profit from the chaos of business cycle volatility by implementing principles of Balanced Scorecard, Strategy and Performance Management.
Gururaj Managuli, Consulting Partner and SCAMPI HMLA, QAI India Ltd:
…profound knowledge for us to absorb….several frameworks and brings them together in a cohesive context… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] I usually pick-up a book during the travels I undertake so as to soak into some knowledge and entertainment.
Usually it is some business book (likes of Blink, Six-sigma etc.) or an entertaining novel (likes of the Firm, Partner) etc. This time I picked up Aligning Ferret thinking that it will be a typical business book.
As a started reading, I realized – it was not just a business book, it was an entertainer too! We usually tend to get bored after going through a business book and keep it aside to continue later. With Aligning Ferret, that was not the case. It pretty much started like a story which one would like to continue reading. At the same time, within the story there is profound knowledge for us to absorb.
If you are/have been a process improvement personnel or a senior manager, you may start reliving some of your actual moments in your professional life.
Interestingly the book starts where others would end: a successful process appraisal for an organization. We are all aware that while a process framework such as CMM helps operational excellence from delivery perspective, it is not sufficient for an organization to achieve true business excellence. So what are those missing pieces? The book brings them forward – be it Balanced Score Card or People CMM. It makes you think through the situations. Better keep a pen and pad ready while reading the book –there are some exercises that you need to complete to get more out of the book. The book touches upon several frameworks and brings them together in a cohesive context. The parallel story running also uses some of these concepts in a subtle manner.
References are provided to take the journey forward on several principles and frameworks covered in the book.
As I came to end of the book, I was expecting some climax that I usually find in novels. Alas, there was no major climax – it was just business as usual.
That’s when I realized – after all, it is more of a business book rather than a novel!
Pick up a copy …… you would be delighted that you did!
Deepak Kumar, Business Excellence Analyst, Unisys India:
…consolidation exercises at the end of each chapter make the readers think of possible solutions…MUST READ for all employees in an organization…[read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Aligning Ferret is an excellent business novel. It showcases challenges that we face in IT organizations in terms of implementation of solutions in a realistic scenario. The book brings out the fact that each and every employee in an organization has a key role to play in making improvement initiatives effective.
The narration style of Aligning Ferret is very good. The story also addresses challenges of work life balance faced by professionals.
The consolidation exercises at the end of each chapter make the readers think of possible solutions to the situations encountered in the book.
I really enjoyed reading this book. A MUST READ for all employees in an organization, especially mandatory for senior managers.
Congratulations to authors and I look forward to their future business novels.
Bharathi Krishnamurthi, HR, Accenture:
…management concepts are well twined in the form of a story… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Aligning Ferret is an interesting book on the journey of an organization in changing times and how people from various teams get involved closely in the change management. Though the characters are fictional, I could relate to many characters and situations in the novel as they continue to live in the real world. On a parallel track the personal life of Sunny, the challenges he faces in managing the work life balance, the changing trend in choice of career option and its increasing acceptance has been bought about quite subtly.
Two aspects that I really liked about the book ;one is that the management concepts are well twined in the form of a story and is introduced slowly to the readers as the team at Ferret tries to resolve the situation at hand rather than bombarding the readers with the jargon of various frameworks. Second aspect is close involvement of team/members from various functions, their emotions and contributions in the critical phase of Ferret, is good reflection of journey that any organization goes through.
In all, a well written book that would be useful for management students besides the people in the corporate world.
Vinay Sharma, Senior Manager, HCL Technologies:
…liked the presentation of this book in terms of formatting, titles and usages of wide range of jargon… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] I liked “Aligning FERRET”, as it includes real-life work problems and an interesting family drama. That makes this business novel very exciting to read. At the end of each chapter, the consolidation exercises provide an opportunity to analyze varied business scenarios and situations.
Important concepts from CMM and P-CMM have been explained in layman’s language and have been related with real work problems.
I also liked the presentation of this book in terms of formatting, titles and usages of wide range of jargon etc. I wish to congratulate the authors for writing such a wonderful book.
Prachi Naik, Six Sigma Black Belt & CMMI Implementor:
…concepts are put across lucidly and interestingly at the same time… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] “Aligning Ferret” is an absorbing book with a crisp and vivid narration that highlights the reality faced while achieving the status of a learning organization. It is a good learning tool for all professionals. It guides all – from initiating the younger people to helping the top managers of maturing organizations appreciate the facts and problems faced by organizations.
The concepts are put across lucidly and interestingly at the same time. Even the non-reader would find it difficult to put the book down. The characters are real as are the situations.
All-in-all the story is one of evolution of both Ferret and Sunil – for Sunil, both at personal and professional level.
Srikanth Raghavan, Director, Global Technology Centre India, Unisys:
…practical insight into how an organization can align its performance towards meeting the business strategy… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Aligning Ferret is a very bold attempt towards demystifying jargon like balanced score card, aligning performance to strategy, etc., through a fun-filled fictional approach. All characters are lively and fun. The authors claim that resemblance of characters to real-life counterparts is entirely coincidental. The characters are so real that there seems to be too much of a coincidence running through the entire book! In many ways the story is almost a mind map of the narrator – Sunny. We get to read about what Sunny thinks and not just what Sunny says. The thinking part is analytic and humorous.
Aligning Ferret provides a practical insight into how an organization can align its performance towards meeting the business strategy. It explains the application and usage of frameworks/models like People CMM, Balanced score card & MBNQA (Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award).
Overall I am quite happy that I read it and would recommend the book as a good read to others.
Ritesh Verma, FS-RM Lead, Accenture:
…great things in the book are the sense of humor and the exercises at the end of each chapter… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] I will be completing 8 years at Accenture this year, and I have been closely working on models like CMM and CMMI.
Having known one of the authors, I could hardly wait for the new book. I ordered one even before the book hit the stores and I am happy I did it.
Great thing about the book is that the organisation and character’s setup has background of normal Indian IT firm and so I could relate to the challenges better.
Sunil Chinnappa (Sunny), a senior project manager at Ferret faces the twists and challenges while trying to align the organization to the business goals of its new parent organization. The way he and his colleagues apply concepts like strategy, performance management, and Balanced Scorecard is great learning for any professional.
Other great things in the book are the sense of humor and the exercises at the end of each chapter which trigger several thoughts.
It was real treat to read this book and I am eagerly waiting for next book from Swapna and Rajesh.
Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad, an entrepreneur, consultant and columnist in software, telecom, infotech based in New Delhi:
…brilliant novel which lucidly describes the pulls and pressures on a project manager in a thrilling fashion… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] “Aligning Ferret” is a brilliant novel which lucidly describes the pulls and pressures on a project manager in a thrilling fashion. I stayed up all night reading it and could not put it down. I have read it from cover to cover three times and have learnt a lot from it.
Congrats to Rajesh Naik and Swapna Kishore. This book will be invaluable to all software project managers.
S Sivanandan, Manager- Quality, ARICENT:
…Definitely a Must-Read for everyone… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Aligning Ferret is an excellent business novel. The best part of the novel is it touches all aspects, concepts and happenings in a typical software organisation which makes every one glued to it. The book can be used as a guide by organisations who are struggling to convert strategy into action.
Needless to say this novel showcases the richness of consulting knowledge of the authors and covers nook and corner of an entire organization.
After reading it, no one will deny that they carry at least some portion of Sunny’s character; although I always wanted to be like Sharad.
I hardly complete a novel at a stretch but this novel made me to do it. Definitely a Must-Read for everyone.
C K Vijay Bhaskar, Business Excellence Analyst, Unisys:
…wonderful flow of content that provokes you to think… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] The “Real Work” starts after the assessment!!
Unlike many other books that try to talk the walk, Aligning Ferret walks the talk through the easy to comprehend narration.
“Aligning Ferret” has a wonderful flow of content that provokes you to think beyond your established assessment milestones and translates it into a practical application to your business goals.
It brings in a good flavor of work-life balance and at the same time instigates you to recognize the importance of keeping things simple and visible – for a successful establishment of systems to achieve your goals.
This is one of those rare books that brings in a different thought process each time you read it. A great compilation by Swapna and Rajesh.
Viji Menon, CQM (Bangalore Region), HCL Technologies Ltd:
…a great asset to the corporate world, particularly IT world… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] My first reaction when I started reading this book was, “I keep seeing Sunny, Rajiv, Sheena and Gulati everyday”. This book is a great asset to the corporate world, particularly IT world as many of the characters and the events are quite familiar.
The story is narrated incredibly well, is simple and a true depiction of reality (including the habits of the people, like munching channa). Every character, every incident or scene has a learning. The story revolves around strategic planning, its execution in parallel with other critical activities. It portrays a growing organization’s challenges and dynamism of management in this scenario, while depicting concepts like Balance Scorecard, the management of operational hazards and touches very strongly on the involvement of stakeholders.
The book portrays incredibly well the challenges in the personal life – visit of Sharad, Sunny’s bonding to Lakshmi Akka and Subhangi’s resignation. The story is narrated using easily identifiable characters like Sheri, Manny, Anand, MSK Prasad and many more.
The touch point of this book is a well written storyline that flows through – and includes the day-to-day pressures of corporate world and personal life. The consolidation exercises at the end of each chapter make the reader pause for interpretation or analysis. It would have been good, if authors’ interpretation was also given at the end.
Though the concepts covered are heavy, these are explained in a story telling, conversational style that make them simple to understand.
“Aligning Ferret” is a “must read” for all employees irrespective of their level – top management, middle management and the junior level.
Great many thanks to Swapna and Rajesh, and I look forward future books!
Noshir Patel, An Independent ISO Consultant, Pune:
…What is done superbly are the interplay and overflow of stresses between office and home…. [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] An easy to read book that covers management and business strategy concepts, and presented as a light novel. The book can be used as a practical guide for an organization’s management team to resolve many of the real life problems. What is done superbly are the interplay and overflow of stresses between office and home.
Dr S Muralidharan, Director – Total Quality Management, CSC India:
…time spent in reading this book is well worth the investment… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Story telling is a difficult art – in particular weaving an interesting story around project management, strategy and process improvement is extremely difficult. The authors have done a wonderful job in disseminating key management topics through a gripping story. The characters come alive. The authors have a very good sense of humor and make you smile at least once in every page. You can relate very easily to Sunny’s life, including the guilt feeling most of us have towards not paying attention to our family responsibilities. It is refreshing that the authors have avoided judgmental stand on the characters – they present the facts and let them sink into you.
The time spent in reading this book is well worth the investment. Next time when you are facing a difficult situation, recalling similar events in Sunny’s life will definitely bring a smile to your face and help you get ahead with more confidence.
Do not blame the authors if, after reading the book, you come to the conclusion that you would have been better off if you had become like Sharad – he is the only one who seems to be having a good time in the novel.
Geatesh Tampy, Director, Global Chemical Development International Flavors & Fragrances Inc., New Jersey:
…excellent book on business concepts… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Aligning Ferret is an excellent book on business concepts. The book has 3 unique features: a compelling story line that holds the readers attention to the very end; well-developed characters and emotions (e.g., excitement, self-doubt) that bring a strong sense of credibility to the issues at hand; the clever use of the private life situations (e.g., a wife becoming pregnant, a nephew ditching IIT prospects for hotel management) for a fine sense of balance and perspective to the hectic corporate pace.
Using the example of a small Bangalore company trying to realign itself for survival to meet the needs of its corporate US parent, the book brings home the importance of continued learning and how organizations need to learn effectively and adapt constantly. Many management basics such as project management, performance by objectives, restructuring to meet the challenges of rapid growth, are dealt with directly as situational challenges in the story. At the same time, the authors take full advantage of the fictional setting and failure-to-execute as a tool to illustrate concepts such as inter-personal, inter-company and cross-cultural global communication.
Anyone at the project level or higher will benefit from this book. There are several review exercises and references for serious students of management that the casual reader may skip. The book is of a good length to cover a range of key topics. The writing is fresh and humorous.
Prithvi Shergill, Human Resources Lead, Accenture India:
…capture the challenges of our complex times in a manner that makes it easy to relate the learnings to our day-to-day life… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Swapna and Rajesh capture the challenges of our complex times in a manner that makes it easy to relate the learnings to our day-to-day life. Aligning Ferret reflects the journey organizations have to undertake to accelerate the performance of our workforces to ensure business aspirations are met.
Integrating talent management processes into the culture and way of working is what aggregates individual proficiency into team capability and will ensure we say what we do and do what we say.
I look forward to the next book!!
OS Balaji, (see his blog here), Business Process Consultant, Wipro, Chennai:
…to survive in a competing business is well etched out through interesting events… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] This weekend I happened to read a book/business novel – ‘ Aligning Ferret’.
Written by Swapna Kishore and Rajesh Naik, the story of the book is set in a software organization called ‘Ferret’.
The story is narrated through the hero of the book, ‘Sunny’ alias ‘Sunil Chinnappa’, who after successfully leading a CMM initiative is entrusted the job of charting out a robust organizational strategy. With a parallel track narrating Sunny’s challenges in his personal life the story maintains the right tempo and sustains the reader’s interest.
Definitely inspired by one of the greatest business novels ‘The Goal’ for its structure, ‘Aligning Ferret’ brings about the management challenges which an IT >organization goes through.
Without diving deep, it touches upon CMM, People CMM and Balanced Scorecard; this however could have been given more detailed focus when Sunny tries to go about charting out Ferret’s strategy.
Day-to-day work pressure in the IT world, employee’s varied expectation’s and need to survive in a competing business is well etched out through interesting events. Characters like Sheri (always loaded HR ), Rajiv (ever demanding Sunny’s boss), Raman (methodical project manager) and Sunny’s wife Shubhangi are people one would come across day in day out.
Overall, the book is definitely a very good read both for its informative content and excellent narrative style.
Shivas Hameed, HR, Accenture, India:
…an interesting case-study for a small-to-medium sized organization… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] I started reading this book with a set mind-frame. I expected it to be more like a text-book through some story-telling involved. But the book was a surprise package.
Sunny’s metamorphosis sets the backdrop for an interesting case-study for a small-to-medium sized organization. For a person like me who although started my career with a medium sized organization, but have mostly been in large organizations, it an insight and probably a cute hand-book to supplement my expertise, if I ever were to get into a small organization/ start-up in a more senior position.
Some decisions are really hard to make, especially when one confronts short term gains (which will look lucrative/ easy to make) versus long term gains which might not show up in the short term. These may also be difficult to sell to senior management. The questions faced by Ferret during the “Vesta deal” are really pertinent to situations which can quite frequently come up.
All in all, this book is a good read and I would definitely term it a ‘keeper’.
Balaram Chandra, Lead Process Consultant, Satyam Computer Services:
…is a must read for every IT professional who intends to play the role of what we quite often term as “Change Agent”… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] In my opinion “Aligning Ferret” is a must read for every IT professional who intends to play the role of what we quite often term as “Change Agent” and not just restricting to professionals spearheading process improvement initiatives.
The book brings out the typical concerns of each and every stakeholder in an IT organization when a process improvement initiative is rolled out – including how the work-life balance gets affected during such initiatives.
To conclude, “Aligning Ferret” clearly articulates and reemphasizes the fact that every employee has a specific role to play in such initiatives. This is often a missing factor in many books that discuss handling of process improvement initiatives.
Mukul Agrawal, Chairman, eTutorworld
…provides an authentic blow-by-blow account on how a typical senior management team in an Indian offshore center operates… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] “Aligning Ferret” provides an authentic blow-by-blow account on how a typical senior management team in an Indian offshore center operates. The ever changing business environment and the myriad internal organization challenges they face, how this impacts the organization and their personal lives, and how they respond to these challenges with grit, imagination and sheer hard work. It is an easy read with a smooth flowing narrative.
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand how India’s Global IT services organizations operate, be it global customers, or global end-users of India offshore centers, or young employees of these organizations aspiring for management positions.
Ajay Batra, Founding Partner, QAI India:
…has distilled the plethora of knowledge that is available, and presented with reader with a select few, and mighty powerful, frameworks and approaches…[read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Two of the greatest challenges in implementing sound management practices within an organization are the “variety” and “density” of best practices/ books/ frameworks that are available. “Aligning Ferret” comes out with flying colours on both fronts!
It has distilled the plethora of knowledge that is available, and presented with reader with a select few, and mighty powerful, frameworks and approaches.
Through its multi-faceted characters and situations, the authors have also simplified the body of knowledge contained in the same.
In fact, it is this approach of amalgamating human situations and organizational events that makes the story believable and the concepts interesting. A must-read for all management professionals – especially those involved in giving a world-class touch to their organizations.
I also recommend that the stories in the book be used by trainers and teachers as Case Studies to drive home the concepts.
Dr. Bhaskar Ghosh, Executive Director, Global Lead-Infrastructure Outsourcing, Delivery Center Network for Technologies, Accenture:
Aligning Ferret is an excellent book which shows how to convert strategy into action. This is a realistic overview of challenges faced by IT professionals and an inspiring read.
Uma Rao, Head Process and Tools Group, SLK Software Services Pvt Ltd.:
…unfolds challenges encountered and solutions implemented thereof progressively with a touch of humor… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Organizations embark on their process improvement journey with intent of realizing long-term benefits such as improved quality, productivity, customer delight etc. This involves establishing business processes using established standards and models as references followed by continuous improvement. While the former has a logical completion in the form of an assessment or a certification, the latter becomes a challenge due to changing dynamics.
“Aligning Ferret” unfolds challenges encountered and solutions implemented thereof progressively with a touch of humor. The consolidation exercises compel readers to pause and think of possible solutions well in advance.
I was catapulted into yesteryears and re-lived those moments of process improvement journey that I had been part. An interesting read to all those who wish to experience those moments and learn from them.
Tilak Raj Panjabi, Country Head (India), DST Worldwide Services:
…an excellent elaboration of strategy and its implementation challenges… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Aligning Ferret is a great business novel. It includes an excellent elaboration of strategy and its implementation challenges and is a wonderful learning tool for people aspiring to lead companies. The story also addresses challenges of work life balance faced by professionals.
The depth of consulting experience of authors is seen in coverage of minute aspects of an organization.
A unique aspect in this business novel was the consolidation exercises at the end of each chapter – I liked them very much.
Lakshmi Abburu, SEPG, Accenture India Delivery Centre:
…was difficult to put the book down once I started… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] I have just finished reading Aligning Ferret, it took me a little longer because both me and my husband were taking turns to read it.
It was difficult to put the book down once I started reading it, I could identify with Sunny and Shubangi as they went through the ups and downs in their lives, some of the incidents in the book look like they have been taken straight out of our lives -including the first reaction when they had guests at home.
Though I have been working on CMM and PCMM for long, this book helped me in understand some of these concepts much better.
The term strategy is very widely used, but very difficult to define. This book elucidates the real meaning of strategy and how it evolves over a period of time. It breaks the notion that “strategy is done by the CEO once in a year, and I as an employee have no role to play in shaping it”. I liked the way different groups come together for sharing the plans.
I find the character of Sheena very interesting– she comes out as an ideal manager, someone who is well organized and has fun while working and is not bogged down by the amount of work, how I wish we could be like her all the time!
I feel that Sharad could have played a more important role – especially in helping Sunny understand the importance of communication,Overall a great book, I am glad to have read it.
Shankar Subramanian, Managing Director, Cutter Associates, Inc., Alumnus IIM Ahmedabad and IIT Madras:
…mixed with business concepts, a little bit of corporate intrigue, personal and cross cultural commentary… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Overall, “Aligning Ferret” is very well written. It is well paced, makes for easy reading. It is reasonably well mixed with business concepts, a little bit of corporate intrigue, personal and cross cultural commentary that enables a reader to go through it without much effort.
The book seems to have multiple objectives. The core objectives appear to be the educating readers in business planning, defining the strategy and the structures needed to execute on the strategy. It illustrates very well that strategies need to be developed and refined on an on-going basis in an environment where execution is already taking place on an ad-hoc basis, and mission critical work needs to be accomplished while the strategy is being developed.
The other objectives it appears to serve:
- The challenges of a young organization undergoing rapid growth – the churning, disarray and the storm before the norm. The book would be very useful for people moving from a large structured organization to a small one – to whom it might seem somewhat incredible Ferret to try to expand into so many different areas, and stretching, but it does seem to be quite a realistic portrayal.
- The challenges of an organization that has been acquired and needs to answer to a new management structure; the reality that the acquired organization may need to change their focus away from business areas that are not consistent with that of its parent.
- Business life in the high tech industry in India, including some of the cultural nuances – though this may not be of much use to people who are currently working in India, nor are there indirect explanations for non-Indians; if this is an intent, it probably would apply to a rather narrow target of people who have grown up in India but haven’t worked in the recent past (20+ years).
- The conflicts and compromises between professional and personal life in urban dual career couples – not sure of this. The references to Sunny’s personal life make for some variety in the book, but the treatment is somewhat excessive, though I enjoyed the bit about the nephew who goes for hotel management.
I didn’t particularly care for those review exercises at the end of each section – they seem more appropriate for a text book than a business novel.
In terms of timing, the book seems have come in the middle of a recession. Perhaps a sequel is in order. The sequel can deal with how Ferret and Sunny cope with an economic downturn and succeed. May be Sunny’s corporate planning department is being shut down so he hones his skills in investment management or IT and becomes a subject matter expert. And on the personal side, you can deal with how Sunny copes with early fatherhood in the middle of a professional crisis.
Alok Sharma – Vice President, Quality, Headstrong Services Pvt Limited
…Every character seems to be alive and every scene feels familiar… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Aliging Ferret is a true depiction of business as usual in any IT organization (since I have not seen non-IT companies from inside), in terms of the dynamics and accompanying maturity of handling chaos.
This narration in the backdrop of humorous storyline establishes the dire need for orientation to the organizational objectives thereby ensuring that everyone works towards a common goal. Do not be misled by the humour; there is message in every scene; even as ordinary a scene such as Sharad not wanting to pursue IIT (clear-headedness) points us to what organizations keep grappling with and fail to create a niche.
It does not take much time to realize that the book introduces us to the Balanced Scorecard. Later in the book, the authors have suggested solutions to people-related problems in Ferret, using the People-CMM® as the guiding model. The depth and width of knowledge that the authors have gathered in their respective 25+ years career is clearly seen and felt in almost every scene depicted. On several occasions I was carried away by the proceedings in a meeting and felt as if I was a part of the Ferret team.
The book talks about the strategic problems of Ferret and offers solutions in operational terms to establish that all actions on ground need to be related to some strategic parameter. And that culminates into a design of score card for stakeholders in Ferret starting from Rajiv, the top man.
Lastly, the book is a light read, but my advice is ‘please do not read it lightly’. There are solutions to complex problems hidden in simple dialogues which are easy to overlook. Every character seems to be alive and every scene feels familiar and organization seems to be similar to mine.
A must read…..
Parameshwaran Ramesh, General Manager – Corporate Quality, CSC India:
…pearls of business wisdom against the fabric of an IT company… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Swapna and Rajesh have convincingly strung together pearls of business wisdom against the fabric of an IT company in Bangalore called Ferret. As I flipped through this business novel with eager anticipation, I couldn’t help nodding my head in agreement. The characters and the events are quite realistic and strike a familiar chord. The Town Hall meeting, the CMM celebration, the work-life imbalance, the quirks of some professionals (channa, health food, et al), the fears and uncertainties of organisation restructuring-all evoke a sense of deja vu.
They say the yummiest bit of a chocolate is its core. So too in this book. The ‘nuuggets’ of Balanced Scorecard, People CMM, two way communication,appraisals (how not to do them !), competencies, measurements, to name a few, are sweetly packaged within the protagonist’s odyssey. This unique method of ‘gyan’ ensures ideas register and stay embedded. For the more professionally minded, the questions at the end of each chapter create an irresistible challenge.
ALL IN ALL, AN ENJOYABLE READ NOT ONLY FOR THOSE WHO ‘HAVE BEEN THERE AND DONE THAT’ BUT ALSO FOR THOSE WHO WOULD DO SO IN THE FUTURE !!!
Umesh Vyas, CPO, Intelenet:
…changing one’s perspective from operations to business and strategy… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Continuing the tradition of Goldratt, Aligning Ferret is a novel with learning about process improvement and a textbook with a story.
Set in the Indian IT and BPO environment, it provides a ringside view of the struggles of Sunny, a senior project manager, in dealing with ‘business as usual’ and ‘changing expectations’ challenges, while managing domestic tensions.
The situations are very realistic. Most of them give a feeling of ‘déjà vu’. They also provide a clear insight from changing one’s perspective from operations to business and strategy. The novel demonstrates use of frameworks like CMM, PCMM, and Balanced scorecard to overcome challenges. It shows the evolution from knowing to applying and succeeding, while overcoming challenges of habit and resistance to change. Most professionals with similar backgrounds will identify with the situations and learn from the way solutions are implemented. Swapna and Rajesh use leverage their personal experience in helping many similar firms.
Aligning Ferret starts well, with a good pace and characterization. However, after a while it tends more towards being a textbook. Exercises at the end of each Chapter are useful from a textbook perspective, but break the story flow. I read the exercises after I finished the book. The book also tries to cover too much ground. At some points the number of problems and possible solution approaches becomes excessive. It would have been better to focus on just one problem.
Hence, if you want to learn the practical application of frameworks in real life case studies, this book is very helpful. However, if you are looking for a fast pace pot boiler for entertainment, this is not the book for you.
I recommend using this book as base material for training in software organizations with each Chapter as a case study.
Srikanth Kestur, Process Consultant, Satyam:
…has a simple yet very powerful narration… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] As I finished reading “Aligning Ferret”, I felt as if I had implemented the best practices related to alignment, human capital management and strategy formulation & implementation at Ferret. The entire setting, characters were well defined and most importantly can be identified with. The seemingly “heavy” concepts are broken down logically and explained through Sunny and his colleagues in a very systematic way to drive home the importance of “alignment” amidst the challenges & predicaments faced by the protagonist.
Book stimulates the readers to identify similar situations at their workplaces and instead of cribbing about the “perennial issues”, provides directions to identify holistic solutions. This business novel has a simple yet very powerful narration which makes for a very interesting read and will ensure that reader completes the book at one go. I think “Aligning Ferret” is an enthralling read and I will be eagerly waiting for the sequel.
Sankararaman Dhandapani, Principal Consultant, QAI India Ltd:
…all round concepts required for managing businesses… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] An engaging read for anybody who is aspiring to move up the corporate ladder and is lost on where to make a beginning. This book gives a crisp, and context driven insight into key underlying principles that are necessary for successfully understanding, measuring and managing a business. If you are already up the corporate ladder and struggling to find a pattern into the happenings around you, this is a must read as well. If you and your organization are into a crisis and you cannot figure out where to start, this is one book that can guide you.
An entertaining teaser into all round concepts required for managing businesses.
One unique aspect of this book is that it does not assume that all is static and hunky dory on the personal front of the key protagonists. The context of the personal challenges faces by the main protagonists makes the book an all the more realistic and easy to relate to.
V B Parab, Mumbai:
…Great story flow keeps the reader hooked, concepts are simplified using situations and personalities are well woven… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Though this business novel gets into heavy concepts like strategy, planning, controlling, balanced scorecards and reorganization it is an easy and pleasurable reading. We need more business novels!
Great story flow keeps the reader hooked, concepts are simplified using situations and personalities are well woven using coherent narration. Reader gets ‘into’ Ferret, ‘lives’ with the characters and finds difficult to keep the book down till end.
It includes lessons in role enrichment using individual strengths, right element of office politics and pressures, crisp development of new systems and processes as the story unfolds smoothly.
This book is useful to people having a need for management education but who are ‘busy’ with work pressure. One can use this book as self/case study, questions and references are given.
The authors have achieved a very difficult task of maintaining reader’s interest, minimizing complexity and heaviness of language and contents without losing message. At the end reader does remember lots of details because they are related to situations common to many organizations! Best example of direct teaching with humour.
Hope it is the beginning of ‘business novels’ period – there would be a great demand for such books.
R Sathyavageeswaran, Asst Vice President –Quality, Aricent:
[read only excerpt…] I have always enjoyed business novels and hence the book’s style naturally struck a better chord with me. The first thing that I notice as I get engrossed in the book is an intense feeling of déjà vu. Sunil, Raman, Sheri… all these characters are people we meet on a daily basis and that’s the strength of this book. Their triumphs and tribulations look so similar and real to anyone in a small but fast growing IT company. Rajesh and Swapna have used all their experience in the IT industry to introduce the typical problems in any fast growing company, while keeping the pace intact. In the process the readers appreciate the benefits of introducing frameworks like PCMM, Balanced Score Card, etc.
One thing that I would have liked to see was some ‘ready-to-use’ templates so that the readers can get a quickstart while implementing the concepts. Or maybe, the authors are planning a sequel to this!
Dr.R.Gopinath, Manager – Process & Quality Assurance, Freescale Semiconductor:
…is its sense of humour. I found myself breaking into smile, chuckling and even laughing out aloud at least twenty times…can be an effective educational material… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] This book is about how Sunny Chinappa, a senior manager of a small Indian IT firm called Ferret, plays a key role in aligning it to the business goals of its parent organization which has recently acquired it.
The authors who are experienced management consultants have very effectively captured the essence of corporate planning through this “business novel”. After reading it one would appreciate the fact that a successful organization requires something much more than effective engineering and project management processes. The non-negotiable need for strategic planning, performance management and competency building has been clearly brought out.
“Aligning Ferret” can be an effective educational material for introducing these areas to the beginners. At the end of each chapter there are consolidation exercises which pose several thought provoking questions related to the incidents narrated in the chapter. The purpose of such exercises is to make the readers pause and think how they would have handled such situations in their workplaces. This can lead to some fresh insights which may prove helpful in dealing with the issues they face in their organization.
The book also provides glimpses of well established business strategy tools like Balanced Score Card, Malcolm Balridge Quality Model and P-CMM and supplements them with a list of very useful references for further study.
The story line is realistic, strong and tight in its narration . It is a real “page turner”. If you work for an IT company you can easily relate to many of the characters and incidents in this book.
The best thing about this book is its sense of humour. I found myself breaking into smile, chuckling and even laughing out aloud at least twenty times in my journey through 200 odd pages.
IT professionals, especially those in the middle-management levels will definitely enjoy reading “Aligning Ferret”.
(Dr. Gopinath blogs at http://bookwormsrecos.blogspot.com)
Prakash Hegde, Sr Consultant, QAI:
…the triumphs and the disappointments that the protagonists at Ferret face…makes it a compelling read… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Aligning Ferret is a narrative that most of us in the IT companies can easily relate to. The excitement, the dilemmas, the self-doubts, the challenges, the triumphs and the disappointments that the protagonists at Ferret face are as much a part of Ferret as they are to most of us.
Reading the book is like running through a flashback of our corporate lives; it holds a mirror to our various work-place actions. The easy pace of the book, the crisp narration laced with a sub text of humor and the relevance of the themes to our day-to-day contexts makes it a compelling read.
The workouts at the end of each chapter provide adequate food for thought and debate on how we could respond to similar instances in our operating events (for those in the “Quality” profession, this would mean “extracting learnings for Continuous improvement”!).
…just need to ask them to read ALIGNING FERRET!! [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] I don’t come from an IT background. I.T. operations are totally Greek and Latin to me. Being married to an IT guy, however and having IT geeks as uncles and brothers, I have been trying to decipher the world of IT operations, outsourcing, et all. “Aligning Ferret” helped me get a peek into the world of outsourcing and I.T. operations.
The narrative and language of the book is simple, fast paced and conversational. It helped a lay person like me understand the world of IT processes better. I feel reassured to participate in the IT related conversation at home. At last, I won’t find myself at a loss of words when I am called upon to explain to my elderly relatives and non-IT friends the nature of my husband’s employment.
I just need to ask them to read ALIGNING FERRET!!
Siddharth Malhotra, Manager- Sapient,Gurgaon:
…read it once and have started reading it again. The book is really an outstanding creation…[read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] It was a pleasure to read the book. The book is a very simple depiction of the learnings of a person in an organization. The characters are very nicely placed and make the business of learning more exciting. I think this is the most interesting way of understanding the processes, strategy, dynamics and complex management decisions of the industry.
I have read it once and have started reading it again. The book is really an outstanding creation and I hope to see more of these in future.
S.Ramachandran, Director – Quality,Aricent:
…Strategy to implementation has been demystified and made simple… [read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] This book uses an innovative approach in making practitioners understand critical Quality and Management concepts in an easy to assimilate story format without compromising on the core concepts. “Aligning Ferret” is an excellent starting point for medium sized organizations which is rapidly scaling up and also for readers from large organizations to appreciate and understand the value of practices they already follow. Strategy to implementation has been demystified and made simple and practical to implement.
“Aligning Ferret” has concluded at an exciting stage for both Ferret and Sunny Chinnappa and I am eagerly waiting for its sequel.
Chinmay Pradhan, Consultant, QAI India Ltd:
…a very absorbing and entertaining read. A one stretch read…[read full review…]
[read only excerpt…] Aligning Ferret provokes thought!! It cajoles us through the involved narration, coerces us with the situations and finally compels us to think.
The book is never about one problem or about a specific solution. It’s a journey of discovering solutions.
As in real life, characters in Ferret multiple problems at the same time. The way the characters encounter the problems both on the professional and personal front is very realistic. In the process, the book also highlights core issues that plague our professional circles.
The book triggers us to think and rethink. The approach to the solution of many questions, dilemmas and problems that Ferret uses will also be applicable to many real life situations that all of us have seen or experienced in our organizations. Along with the characters we all discover the logic and thoughtfulness needed for solving most of our problems.
The elegant narration coupled with the identifiable characters makes Aligning Ferret a very absorbing and entertaining read. A one stretch read. I am eagerly looking forward to its sequel.
Comments received from early readers before publication.
Sally A. Miller, Co-author, People Capability Maturity Model:
A colorful story with insightful characters that provides an interesting glimpse into a company with a rich culture so different from my own.
Chet Kamat, Managing Partner–India, Symphony Technology Group, Director of Capco, Netik, and Symphony Marketing Solutions:
The book comes across as a easy read – yet, it does a great job of bringing home the imperative to pull the various elements of business strategy together in an organisation; it makes real the value of sharing the business goals across various functions and teams and explains to a middle level manager the need to both understand and share the big picture. Well done !
Vishwas Mahajan, Co-founder and CEO, Compulink Systems Ltd.:
I found the book very engaging and relevant. As I run the business I am faced with some of the same dynamics and situations that present themselves in Ferret and it was nice to get a ‘helicopter view’ while reading it. The book is a synthesis of years of consulting experience that Rajesh and Swapna have, and their ability to string together the commonalities is excellent. I would recommend this to any senior manager, specifically in hi-tech industry.
Arnabi Marjit, HR Head-India, Kimberly Clark Lever:
This is going to be a boon to all those in various rungs of management who feel strategy is nothing but a ‘rocket science’ reserved only for the board rooms and those in the board rooms actually keep wondering what is the animal called strategy all about.
Ajay Tejpal, Fidelity Business Services India Pvt. Ltd:
Aligning Ferret is a very realistic portrayal of a modern, fast paced, on-the-move Executive. Read it like a novel or read it like a concept book, you’re sure to get hooked on to it.
S Guha, General Manager (QHSE) and MR, Linde Engineering India Pvt. Ltd:
…reading the manuscript was an interesting and enriching experience and I sincerely believe that this book will greatly help to promote painless learning and develop an appropriate mindset that recognises the importance of adopting sound quality and management concepts in our day-to-day work environment. It is a must for everyone who cares to improve the capability and maturity of their organisation continuously.
Thank you Swapna, thank you Rajesh for your brilliant work that has greatly helped me to align my thought process. I will preserve this unique gift for repeated reference.
Sudipto Marjit, Head- Business Planning, American Axle Manufacturing:
The best attribute of the book was its crisp pace. In fact, once I picked it up, it was difficult to put it down. A great resource for any Quality Practitioner.
® CMMI and CMM are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by Carnegie Mellon University.