BarCamp Mumbai 3 (and BCB6)

BarCamp Mumbai 3 seems all set to rock. With almost 600 people on the list, we can see over 400 turn up. We had some initial worries about the pace of topic registrations, but putting the topics onto the main page seems to have made a big difference. In addition, there will be several additions at the venue. Quite a few people have mentioned it in the registration list, in mailing list or even offline.

I’ll have two sessions at BCM3. First is a FireTalk. Details only at the talk but it has something to do with unconferences. Second will be the launch of Startup Saturdays in Mumbai. Do drop in and add your views.

BarCamp Bangalore 6 meanwhile has been announced on 19 and 20th April at IIM Bangalore.

Its interesting to see these two events shape up side by side. Both have a very enthusiastic planners team. Both teams have seen an increase in number of folks who want to be planners. In fact, we’ve had people add themselves to the Google groups or crib on the general list about being left out from the planners list. In the end, all got included in the true spirit of BarCamps. The confusion arises since each edition has a different planners’ mailing list. This allows for new faces to come up and olds ones to recede. The only criteria is demonstration of some degree of commitment for doing things. Usually turning up for a planning meet is enough. This time all commited folks got into the planners list and I guess more would be getting in.

Barcamps Mumbai and Bangalore

Looks like Mumbai and Bangalore Barcamps will be very close to each other. Bangalore planners met this morning while the Mumbai ones met in the evening. Given the usual lead up time needed, both are likely to end up being close to each other.

This will be very interesting for me; being on both teams. Bangalore one is the larger, older and more mature one while Mumbai one is just starting out. Also Bangalore is a city where one can’t throw a stone without hitting a techie. In Mumbai, there is an mazing variety even though the financial world dominates the mindscape. With the schedules matched up too, it’ll be easier to observe and compare.

This also seems to be the time when techies reassert themselves. We’ve already had a Devcamp. Now both Barcamps are highly likely to have a codecamp as well.

I attended the Mumbai planners meet. The planners group has expanded to include several BCA1 folks and some folks from BCM2 participants. Looks like an awesome party already.

DevCamp Bangalore 1

Just left DevCamp Bangalore 1. Its another offshoot to the Barcamp movement that is sweeping across India. As Sidu put it at the begining, there have been many focussed *Camps but not a Devcamp yet, so here it is. I thought it was quite appropriate that it happened at Thoughtworks where we had revived Barcamp Bangalore with BCB2. I too spoke a bit about Kickstart and the upcoming Startup Saturdays.

While I couldn’t stay at the camp the whole day (I’m in the plane waiting for the flight to take off), it already felt like a great camp. Content is good. I liked participating in the “Is facebook an Enterprise App” slot. We didn’t reach any conclusions but was nice to be hearing from Martin Fowler himself on this. He stayed away from most of the things but did comment that “enterprise grade” tends to be more of a marketing statement than anything else. Sadly, our time came to end just as we were warming up.

I missed Rajiv’s product launch. He caught me later and gave me the due lashing. Sounds like an interesting product to check out. Link to follow.

Importance of mental models in Innovation

My own discussion at Barcamp was centered around Innovation in large IT services firms such as TCS. A bulk of the audience had exposure to IT Services but almost no one believed that there was any innovation in the large IT Services firms.

It was a free flowing discussion where I wanted to hear as much from the audience as to leave them with something worthwhile. We spent a lot of time talking about how mental models inhibit or foster innovation.

We asked ourselves questions like what exactly is IT Services? Are the lines as dictated by conventional wisdom really hard lines on the ground or mere simplifying mental assumptions that need to be questioned from time to time? Does innovation start by challenging conventional wisdom?

I firmly believe that one has to continually probe at the received wisdom of the day to really see what new can be done. At the same time, one has to respect the received wisdom because its established for a good reason. Let’s take an example: Google is an example of business service enabled by strong IT. Is there something to be learnt for IT Services companies? At the first blush no, because the ad-driven revenue model is far out from current business. Not core competence as some would say. But does the basic concept of providing service to one party using strong IT and collecting money from a third depending upon the quality of service extendable to IT Services? At TCS, the answer has been yes!

Case in point: MCA21 project of government of India where TCS is directly responible for provision of service to customers and collects money from the government. The money collected depends upon the quality of service just as the ad revenue depends upon click through in Google’s model. And this is not the first time this was done. A precusrsor to this with a slightly different model was APonline which provides citizen services on behalf of Govt of AP. APOnline is 80% owned by TCS.

Bottomline: Conventional wisdom challenged but in a more realistic way which is closer to the core business. No hard and fast rules but the best way is to try and learn.

Who comes to Unconferences?

Sandeep Singhal asked an interesting question at the begining of his talk: How many of you want to be entrepreneurs and how many of you are already one? A large number of hands went up on the first and very few on the second. Clearly unconferences attract aspirants. This is evidenced also by naivette that one sees in the questions asked etc.

The good news is that a lot of the aspiring entrepreneurs at least at Barcamp Bangalore were working at an idea or had a ready concept or were looking to launch. Good deal flow for VCs such as Sandeep.