Chennai, India – Day 11-15 – Where did the time go?

calendar_june_2014There’s been an obvious gap in my blogging about our project here in Chennai as we moved deep into forming our recommendations and determining how to best assemble them to address the city’s challenge to identify revenue opportunities.  In summary here is what we have been doing for the last 5 days:

Thursday – Day 11 – We started putting pen to paper to move from synthesis to developing our recommendations.  It was eerily quiet in our work room for much of the day as we drafted the recommendations.  There was the intermittent ‘aha’ or ‘uh oh’ to break the silence but really it was quite a focused day of work.  As part of the Smarter Cities Challenge each participant is offered the opportunity to mentor a local IBMer.  Barbara and I had our mentor meetings today.  I hope they enjoyed the time with us as much as we did with them.  It’s always interesting to hear about others’ accomplishments and career aspirations as they inspire us to consider the possibilities.

Thursday evening was a bit of a bummer for me.  I was running on the treadmill and took a wrong step and injured my achilles so its ‘limp along cassidy’ for a few days.

Friday – Day 12 – Mats and I started the day with yoga. I did my best to get through it we a bad achilles but it was tough and I had to do a lot of ‘cheating’ to get through class.  We worked in teams – team 1 worked on drafting our slides for the CoC presentation. and team 2 worked on refining our recommendation paper.  Mid morning, Shobha, Jaya and I returned to the CoC to meet with the Public Relations Officer to better understand the scope of the city’s communications efforts. We stopped for lunch before heading back to join the team to continue developing our recommendations.  Both Mats and Ravi had their mentoring sessions with local IBMers today as well.  As it turned out, Friday was a long day with the team here in Chennai and then followed by catching up with the team at ‘home;.  It’s funny for me to say that when the team I am on is in the US, India, Canada and the UK.  While the day was long it served to help me appreciate how many different and really interesting things we have going on around IBM and how the teams can work seemlessly around the globe.  Not many organizations can be this fluid, with this level of expertise, and focus to address our client’s and business partners’ needs.

Saturday – Day 13 – The team took the early morning ‘off’ to rest, run, shop, or other activities to help sooth the soul. I personally slept late and with a bum ankle didn’t wander away from the hotel.  We assembled late morning to checkpoint on our individual progress and then went to lunch together at local southern Indian eatery.  Ravi was feeling a bit under the weather so we decided we would go back to working individually for some time.  We later gathered to join Magesh, who had invited us to his social club for dinner.  We had rain that evening so while we couldn’t take advantage of the movie on the lawn, we did get quite a kick out of the rest of the facilities.  We enjoyed the music, football, food and drinks for some time before returning to the hotel.

Sunday – Day 14 – We decided we had made enough progress to take the full morning off.  Barbara, Mats and I decided this was likely going to be the best time for us to get some shopping done so we grabbed a car to the local mall.  Like malls in the United States on a Sunday, it was bustling with shoppers.  After contributing to the Chennai economy, we enjoyed lunch at one of the southern Indian kitchens in the food court.  Barbara and I had to make another stop after lunch, so Mats headed out ahead of us.  Barbara and I decided that we would do as the locals do and take an autorickshaw back to the hotel.  We negotiated the fare and thought we did pretty well, only to realize that we really had not and were paying double what Mats negotiated.  Mats had been out before and knew the relative distance and was very wise to negotiate after the ride versus our approach of negotiating in the beginning.  Now that we know the secret to the negotiations, we can get anywhere.  When we returned to the hotel, we gathered as a team and spent the next few hours working on our presentation.  Since we worked late we skipped going out and headed up to the lounge for drinks and snacks.  Now that we have been here 15 days, the staff knows exactly what each of us drinks, who is vegetarian and who is not, and how many drinks we will drink.  I am not sure if this is a good thing, or a bad thing.

Today – Day 15 – it’s back to the work schedule today.  Mats and I were to be joined for yoga this morning by our colleagues but something apparently happened to their wake up calls because Mats and I were there without back up at 6:30am.  Today we traveled back to the CoC headquarters to meet the commissioner and prepare for Thursday’s recommendation.  After a brief stop for lunch, we returned to the hotel. Our focus today was to refine our presentation in order to move to our report writing.  While we were finishing up, Barbara, Magesh, Shobha and Jaya returned to the CoC to review our recommendations with the Deputy Commissioner.  We will review their feedback in the morning.  It’s hard to believe we have just 5 more days in Chennai.  We have a lot more to do before the end of the week.

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