‘‘Great owls, you all make’ – Yoda

While working in Taichung on the Smarter Cities project, our team was asked a few times about how the 5 of us worked so well together as a team, and what the formula was, to our success. They were fascinated by our teamwork and camaraderie it seems! One gentleman said, ‘you need all the 5 fingers to make it a helping hand’, and added that we were the 5 fingers of the ‘SCC helping hand’ for Taichung! What a nice compliment, really!!

It is true, we worked well together, and my team mates (we call ourselves #RADDS, a concatenation of our first name initials) deserve a salute and a blog from me, for making this a great team!

Before I start, I suggest you get a cup of Oolong tea, the one with ‘vanilla’ flavor (hmmm!), one of those lovely moon cakes as well, and curl up your feet, because it is going to be a long ride into my memory lane!

First, count the blessings!

Our blessings were very special! “Anne-the-magician-McNeill” who brought us together and prepped us diligently for the project, and stayed the course with us. You know, she convinced me even before I set out on my journey that it was going to be a great experience. And yes! Of course She was right. Ms. Lisa Chen who welcomed us in Taiwan, put us on a tight schedule, fed us amply, immersed us in local culture & values, pampered us, praised us, and journeyed with us, ‘Toujours’, with the ‘grace of a swan’ and a smile! Thank you Anne and Lisa! We are appreciative of these blessings!

mazu temple blessings

Next, I strongly trust that the IBM’s core values that we as a team, innately believed in, helped us culminate all our experiences and expertise, and lead to the inherent success of this project!

While we leveraged our expertise and creativity, we also inadvertently settled into a teaming approach. I call it the #RADDS approach (see chart below). At the center are 4 key contributing factors, and surrounding rays represent our beliefs. Our goal was singular, i.e. Client Focus. We took advantage of all the stakeholder meetings, tours and loads of information shared with us; we listened intently (both in English and in Mandarin), we read and we discussed a lot. We seamlessly collaborated while practicing our approach and working towards the goals.

RADDS approach

We also instinctively respected and valued each other’s expertise and opinions. We took all possible va’ria’bles into consideration and we performed like a relay team of five! When you have a common goal and intent, it’s easier to work well together, and for long hours too. We were a typical hardworking, smart IBM team, I guess. Here it is, from our team to yours – an abridged list of what we practiced and appreciated:

  • Use the power of influence, effectively and kindly
  • Be open minded, each day, every day
  • Be persuasive, but with kindness
  • Be genuinely inclusive
  • Hear an opinion, give an opinion
  • Collect all opinions, make them count and use them judiciously
  • Make team decisions; do not split and parse
  • Ask for and hear clarifications; do not assume
  • Be patient with each other (even at 2am)
  • (Try to) balance work and life, even on a hectic SCC project
  • Soften the edges over a Taiwanese cold beverage
  • Bond over Japanese barbeque and French dinners
  • Bring a camera, take a lot of team pictures. They will be the proof of the magical friendship and times you experienced!


The City of Taichung was also a major influencer for our working together nicely; its warmth, kindness, open mindedness and the passion to do things better and that relentless, unwavering care for the citizens of Taichung! How could we not be part of it? Taichung, Thank you for sharing your magnanimous beauty, character and generosity with us and influencing us so!

There we were, five strangers

One destination, with one set goal,

Taichung, with your charm, you allowed us to be one splendid team!

22535477533_28a8422606_o.jpgThe delightful #RADDS. Huddled from left to right – Rebecca Butler, David Kinsey, C’est moi, Armando Calderon, Dmitri Kharitonenko

Work – Life balance

The message of work – life” balance is universal! I noticed that, we defined it here at home, but we seldom follow it, while others thrive on the idea and practice it diligently (smiley). Even, Mayor Lin of Taichung made sincere efforts to entice us, to get us off our MacTops (Macs and Laptops) to venture out. We obliged, but only sometimes, because we didn’t have the luxury of time (so we told ourselves).

However, I enjoyed working with my team (and great Taiwanese food that was served) during those late hours, because it was inspiring, creative and result oriented!

What would Yoda say?

Bringing your attention back to my 4 team members, if Yoda were to meet them, he’d like them right away, and he’d say to them – ‘Great owls, you all make’.

Yes, they are very smart and they always look out for others (owls). They are excellent writers and great story tellers too. So I pray, beseech and implore them (with many Taiwanese ‘18 day’ cold beverages) to blog again soon! And if I may, here is how I’d describe each one of them to you (anonymously and in random order) in a ‘troem’ (tricky poem):

One shows the gestures of kindness, as special as the yellow Orchids on a Taichung mountain!

One has the gracefulness to make the ginger blossoms take note, blush and stand up straighter!

One has the regal stride and the aura of awesomeness!

One has the cheerfulness to win many hearts, and many times over!

 (Can you guess, who is who??)

The Salute

The ride ends here, with my salute to Rebecca, Armando, David and Dmitri. Thanks for coming together as a team, for sharing your expertise, and creating an atmosphere of excellence! You all have influenced me remarkably and in varied ways. Thank you to each one of you, for the laughs, your kindness and genuine warmth of friendship!

May this season of celebration, sharing and of caring, make you all merrier and kinder!

May your hearts ‘hum’ with gentle happiness, always!!

 Hope you have a great rest of the year! Happy Holidays & Happy 2016!

Zhídào xià cì!        直到下次!!

4 owls


From Team-Taichung: @rebeccajbutler @oacalderon1 @dkinsey28 @dkharitonenko @Sperepa


1 Comment

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One response to “‘‘Great owls, you all make’ – Yoda

  1. Suj,

    Thanks for your kind words. You all truly were an amazing team! The city and people of Taichung were so lucky to have you all on the challenge.