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					                                                                         Up Close                        W       hat has not changed is
                                                                                                                 the competitive spirit that
                                                                                                         turns winners into emotional

                                                                                                         wrecks - lost for words - and
                                                                                                         makes those who lose to be-
                                                                                                         lieve they deserve better be-
                                                                                                         cause they worked so hard that
                                                                                                         they believe they are the best.
                                                                                                         Winners are applauded, but the
                                                                                                         story of the rest is hardly told.
                                                                                                         For instance, this team of vet-
                                                                                                         erans, all international winners.
                                                                                                         An outside-the-podium finish
                                                                                                         was too much to take, worse
            It all began with 19 teams making presentations in                                           still the questions from the fam-
                                                                                                         ily on the worth of weekends
            July 1997 in a makeshift hall in Hosur I, cooled by                                          and long hours spent preparing
            ice slabs propped up behind industrial fans. Between                                         and practising. The team broke
                                                                                                         up. Luckily, the story didn’t end
            the recession of the mid 90s and the current reces-                                          there: they came back with even
            sion, IMPROVE has been a change story in the last                                            more hard work and got back to
                                                                                                         their winning ways. Instinctive
            11 years.                                                                                    problem solvers, many of the
                                                                                                         veteran teams have learned to
                                                                                                         take results in their stride and
                                                                                                         continue to contribute. That is
                                                                                                         the evolved level of participation
                                                                                                         teams reach eventually.

                                                                                                         S    uspense has been an in-
                                                                                                              trinsic – as also cultivated
                                                                                                         – character of IMPROVE: any
                                                                                                         competition allows that, espe-
                                                                                                         cially the results. IMPROVE
                                                                                                         has also benefitted from the
                                                                                                         pre-event hype and specula-
                                                                                                         tion on “Where are you hold-
                                                                                                         ing IMPROVE this year?”
                                                                                                         and “ What is the theme this
                                                                                                         time?”. Ever since a Miss Asia
                                                                                                         Pacific wowed the finalists at
            Suspense has been an                                                                         Hosur, the next year followed
            intrinsic character; there has                                                               by Krishnamachari Srik anth
            always been speculation                                                                      narrating his 1983 World Cup
            around ‘the surprise guest this                                                              experience, there has always
            year’.                                                                                       been speculation around ‘the
                                                                                                         surprise guest this year’.

            a story in 75 WoRDS                  we are asking you to give us a        The most interesting stories will be published in
                                                 really short ‘short story’. But the   the next issue of Ashley News.
            TWITTER, the current online          concession here is you can go
            craze, is the inspiration for this                                         Employee/spouse/children can participate. One
                                                 up to 75 words. STRICTLY NOT
            time’s contest!                                                            person can send more than one entry.
                                                 BEYOND THAT.
            Just as TWITTER asks for a                                                 English/Tamil/Hindi entries will be accepted.
                                                 So, take up the challenge …
            short (at 140 characters, it is      write a ‘really short story’ and      Send to: Editor, ASHLEY NEWS, 1, Sardar Patel
            really short!) status update on      send it to us by October 15,          Road, Chennai – 600 032
            “What are you doing now?”,           2009.                                 or email to

                                                                                                                   Ashley News / August 2009   16
           W      hen everything goes per plan, it is great but what one will
                  remember for a longer time are some awkward moments and

           the killing suspense. Like the Kodai edition of 2006, in a specially
           erected enclosure by the slope of a hill. By evening, the monsoon
           winds were threatening the roof. It didn’t help that the previous
           night the contractor laid the asbestos sheets in the opposite direc-
           tion of the wind, so that each sheet edge was an inviting opening
           for the wind, and the wind played a devilish music on this virtual
           keyboard. The heavy downpour provided the drums but, thankfully,
           held the roof in place!

           C    elebratory dances got a leg-up with the top management join-
                ing in. One of the most ‘natural’ dancers has been a grandfa-
           ther who says he has never danced before – incredible given his
           perfect rhythm! Outside the presentations, the best remembered
           moments are those of guilt-free joy that satisfy the child in each of
           us, moments lost in actions that will be considered abnormal in our
           normal family context. It is catharsis of a kind. And memorable.

                                                                                      B    eyond the splash in the pool and the shrieks
                                                                                           at the games is the participants’ mature
                                                                                      sense of ownership. Early this year, with reces-
                                                                                      sion slashing monthly volumes and working
                                                                                      days, there was speculation whether IMPROVE
                                                                                      2008 would be held at all, though there was
                                                                                      an announced plan to hold it abroad. That was
                                                                                      when some associates – long-term committed
                                                                                      IMPROVE participants all – came up to say:
                                                                                      “Please drop the foreign location plans this year.
                                                                                      We will do that when better times return”.

                                                                                      P    utting the event together over the years has
                                                                                           been a home-grown team of volunteers who
                                                                                      come together once a year to form the organising
                                                                                      team Lego-like, soon dismantled like the Lego
                                                                                      pieces. The joy and the ‘enthu’ they bring to
                                                                                      the 24x7 task make light work of all the logistical
           Guilt-free joy that satisfies the child
           in each of us, actions that will be                                        How can we replicate that one week of syn-
           considered abnormal in our normal family
                                                                                      chronised team work and peak efficiency, rest
                                                                                      of the year?

                                                                                      Think about it.
                                                                                                                             – Editor
                                                                                                                                               contest result

           Different Perspectives!                    Among the 14 entries we         R&D: “The New Path to Land on the Moon”
                                                      received, we find only one      Quality: “The parallelism of the path to be checked”
           We had asked you to take a
                                                      fitting the bill. And that is
           look at the picture and tell us                                            Finance: “The cheapest mode to reach the moon”
           what would be the instant reac-                                            Marketing: “Land for sales in moon” nearer to railway
           tion of those from the following           P.U.Balaji, PD – Ennore.
                                                                                      HR: “Your performance track will take you to the Moon”
           R&D, Quality, Finance, Market-
                                                                                      We really liked it. Congratulations!
           ing and HR

17   Ashley News / August 2009

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