Dynamic Diaspora – Global Webinar

Here is the link for an upcoming global webinar on Sunday August 16th

7.00 to 8.30 PM (IST); 6.30 to 8.00 AM (PST); 9.30 to 11.00 AM (EST).

Hope you will register and join.

Dynamic Diaspora

Special Guest: Shri Chaitanya Prakash Yogi, Director, Swami Vivekananda Cultural Center, Durban

Chair:  Dr. K Subramanian, Founder-President STIMS Institute (USA) – Indian Culture and Ethics in the Global Scenario”


  • Shri. Akshay Mahashabde, President, Marathi Mandal (the Netherlands) – Indian Cultural Identity in the Netherlands
  • Dr Balu Natarajan, First Indian Spell-Bee Champion and Physician (USA) – Indian Excellence from Sports to Spelling Bee
  • Dr. Ramesh Mehta, President, BAPIO (UK) – Contribution of Indian doctors to NHS
  • Dr Kadira Pethiyagoda, Former Diplomat (Australia) – Culture and Diplomacy

HR Development – Some suggested ideas for the employers as well as the job seekers.

A young man, recent graduate in physical sciences approached me recently on some advice for career development. After graduation he liked working in a bicycle shop and later got a shop floor job at an aerospace Co. Now he is laid off, wants to pursue engineering and wants to work with hands on projects. Now he wants to know if he should invest in education for a four year undergraduate degree in Engineering? Such adhoc choices in education and career options may be the thing of the past. Today everyone needs to be more strategic and systematic in their plans and career choices.

Let us review the evolution in the changing nature of jobs and careers. Then we shall discuss how they can be tailored to meet individual needs.

Jobs and Career: What is the need in the 21st Century?

The traditional pyramidal organization is now getting divided into four separate and distinct layers as show in the figure below. These figures and the figure no. are in the reference book: Thriving in the 21st Century Economy – Transformational skills for Technical Professionals.

 In this changing organizational structure we can identify a group of workers called “Professionals”. These professionals add substantial value to the products and services – the output of any company. Much of the information work of these professionals can be augmented now using plug and play solutions readily available to any company or competitor. The labor aspect of these professionals is also readily supplemented through outside resources. They can also be augmented through automation.  The abundance of small and medium sized suppliers, independent consultants and service providers can displace the in-house professionals on demand. Hence the professional ranks in companies – which are seen as head count or over head – have been diminished over the past three to four decades. The depleted “Professional” workers in the companies need gradual and careful rebuilding for the sustenance of the Co. today and also for its long term success. Below we address some of the reasons and how to address this critical need.

HR development for any company becomes a challenge targeting professional workers and their unique capabilities. This does not imply ignoring information workers or Labor pool. But unique value addition for any company will depend on the cadre of professional workers in every department.

Take for example any Design Department. In the past Design work involved concept development, drafting the part drawings, develop detailed manual analysis, select the materials and vendors, follow up on design alterations, support and overcome the production hick ups, etc. All of this involved some critical thinking but also required substantial attention to details, paper work and physical engagement for documentation, meetings, coordination, etc. These tasks were divided between many people with “expertise in each task”. Today the critical thinking has to result in identifiable new solutions that are implemented as a final solution. As an example the “design professional” with a new machine concept or new machine features has to carry these ideas from Concept to a fully commercial product to meet customer needs. These professionals need to be entrepreneurial, capable of handling a variety of jobs/ tasks and problems. This is in total contrast to the standardized task oriented capabilities and activities which was the forte of the large body of workers in the past.

The idea of “Professional as a solution provider” is not limited to Design Department alone. In fact such professionals are needed in every department and business function. The traditional “9 to 5 jobs” are no longer in place. You can no longer do what you are asked to do and be satisfied with it. Instead, today professionals also have many opportunities to integrate knowledge from various sources on a 24 X 7 basis, from other workers, knowledge available across departments, with the suppliers as well as from the customers or end users. Even the view of “Customers” need not be one outside the company buying the products and services. Instead any user of the “solution” of the professional is his/her customer.

The advent of smart phones, Facebook, Google and other search engines also augment the ability to aggregate information from across the globe and convert them into new knowledge. The result is a “new solution” of high added value. Through these new solutions the professional demonstrates the use of their higher skills. They are also constantly on the lookout for new skills and resources to augment their capabilities without being prompted by any one. They are the risk takers to usher in new stream of solutions and heralded as “entrepreneurial”. The new term used for such entrepreneur working inside a company – as opposed to a startup operation – is “intrepreneurs”!  https://stimsinstitute.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/stims-cover-story-mmi-jan-2018-issue.pdf They are able to spread their wings to cover a wide range of issues as well as dive deep to address advanced technical or business or problems (on their own or using resources from anywhere). Because of the entrepreneurial nature of the work, risk taking and responsibilities the “New Solutions” wing of any department will have only a few highly skilled workers, with very few layers in the organization.

At the same time, once developed and implemented these new solutions have to be replicated in large quantities to generate the volume and to meet the revenue needs of the company. The jobs in this section will be highly standardized but the volume of work flowing through will be high. Since the work is more task oriented there will be more organizational layers. But, even in this replication wing the workers will have to be capable of handling wider variety of tasks than the traditional workers with narrow and limited responsibilities (See Fig. 2.2.)

The professional workers can be divided into two modes with distinct difference in their skills as illustrated in another manner as shown in Figure 3.9.We can call this as the Binary Economy. https://stimsinstitute.com/2018/11/08/it-is-the-binary-economy-stupid/ In this binary economy the New Solutions and Replication Solutions are two independent clusters, business models or operational entities.

HR Development Strategy for the employers:

The HR development in every department in each of these two entities have to be managed as two parallel strems.

For example the HR management for the new solutions organization must also be entrepreneurial, creative  and distinctly different from the traditional HR management for the task oriented organizations. The same applies for Research, Design, Purchasing, Production, Sales and Customer support.  But, the new solutions entity will also have the obligation to refine and standardize the product in such a fashion that the Replication entity can do so with large volumes of reproduction without any hick ups. In this binary economy the middle portion of the “learning curve” no longer exists.  This is shown as the dotted line – the gap – in figures 3.9 and 3.10. Consider for example the release of I – Phones by Apple. In the very first few weeks Apple sells millions of units of a new model!

Their reward will also be substantially different as shown in Figure 3.10. The “New Solution Providers” in all business functions across the company will be few in number but they will command higher salaries and incentive pay consistent with their contribution to the top line and bottom line of the company.

But the workers involved in the replication solutions most of whom are low wage workers are stuck in a flat wage economy. In fact the large body of these workers have not seen much rise in their wages, because the skill level required of these workers have not substantially increased thanks to automation and IT driven plug and play solutions. https://stimsinstitute.com/2016/05/23/do-americans-really-miss-the-unions/  This situation will only continue to worsen further thanks to Robotics and AI.

Skill requirements of the people d for the “New Solutions” capabilities are described as Transformational Skills. For details, please see:  https://stimsinstitute.com/2020/05/08/post-covid-19-an-assessment-of-jobs-and-careers-need-for-system-thinking-and-transformational-skills/

There is a legitimate question to be asked: Who cares for the long term economic health and well-being of the large body of workers engaged in “Replication Solutions”  inside the company as well as in the nation (or the world) as a whole. This sector of the working population cannot be neglected for long. Frankly speaking it is this neglected generation of workers without any prospect for change that we see as the angry and disgruntled segment of the population in USA. They are also described as the “neglected middle” of America. Companies will need to sustain this work force through strategies that are equitable and also humane. Universal living wage is being discussed as a national policy for this in the USA and a few European countries. Guaranteed higher minimum wage must also be looked at seriously for this segment of the working population.

Skills and Strategy for sustainable employment of job seekers:

Three dimensions of talent: We started this white paper with the request from a fresh graduate seeking advice on Jobs and career. We have already seen that the well-paying jobs are now clustered in a narrow category of workers called “New Solution” providers. In this narrow set, each person creates his own career path. But to fill the opportunities in “New Solutions” it is not just sufficient to go to school and get a degree. It is not even important if the degree is in Engineering, Physical Sciences, humanities or arts and sciences. But what is important is to develop a skill to conceive and develop a new solution and reduce it to practice. This requires a “talent” which is a sum of Knowledge, Experience and People Skills. The details of these capabilities are tabulated in the Table below. Education in the broad sense of the term must comprise of accumulation of competencies that are readily deployable at will among all these three capabilities as required in a given situation.

Three Dimensions of talent
Core Capabilities of Professionals  Description    Tools or Enablers
  KnowledgeDeep and extensive learning; Well informed; Comprehension of various aspects of the subjectFormal Education, Reading, Learning from peers, Data driven, searching the data base, Observations
  ExperienceSkill derived from actual participation or direct involvement; Accumulated wisdom from real life.Hands-on Activities, Involvement, Experiments, Risk-taking
  People Skills  Ability to seek out others and receive their support, help, and cooperation; Willingness to reciprocate, to achieve mutual benefitsHonesty, Integrity, Communication Skills, Collaboration, Team Spirit, Results driven, Emotional Intelligence.

System Thinking:

As we have described earlier every professional is a knowledge worker. They develop and implement new solutions. Every solution requires a collection of inputs. When brought together in a logical and orderly manner, the inputs change into outputs of use to someone for something. Meeting such needs of someone by transforming the inputs into outputs is what we call as a “solution”.  Hence every solution is an “Input/Transformation/Output system”. Keeping this point of view relentlessly in everything we do is the beginning of system thinking,

Here is a check list for system thinking assessment:

  • Are you looking at the big picture (the solution) or operate blind folded? Are you able to focus on the picture on the screen as a whole (the solution) or are you fixated on the pixel?
  • Do you look before you leap?
    • Do you have a comprehensive view of the problem (or solution) as an input/transformation/outputs system? (See Figure 4.1)
    • When you are told “What?” you have to do, do you ask “Why?” this is important to do, for whom, how it will be measured for the success and make sure there is agreement before jumping into the solution?  — Awareness level of system skills.
  • Are you driven by data and its analysis or by opinions and “rules of thumb”? Remember a good carpenter measures twice and cuts once?  — This is the Analysis level of system skills.
  • When asked “What is 2 +2?”, do you instinctively answer 4 or say” Why is this question? Value or benefits? What goes “into the 2 and the other 2?” Then follow up on the questions until a new solution is developed and implemented? — This is the highest (Synthesis) level of system skills.

IT Skills for knowledge aggregation, data and its use and IT automation of everything you do more than once!

If customer was the king at the end of the 21st century, “Data” is the king in the 21st Century. You can efficiently deploy the data through your “Knowledge”, “Information” or “physical work”. How you aggregate and manage the data determines if you fall into the “New Solutions” projects or “Replication” activities. These largely depend on your IT skills to use search engines, communicate through social media platforms as well as extensive use of standard plug and play software tools. You need not be a computer whiz or IT genius. But you should be conversant and proficient in using every available and readily accessible software tool. The old proverb was “Pen is mightier than the sword”. Today the Digital Technology (through computers, network, search engine, social platform tools, etc.) is mightier than any pen and academic education!”.

Life Long Learning:

We have addressed this need in detail at: https://stimsinstitute.com/2018/01/24/stims-strategy-for-life-long-learning-for-intrepreneurship/ In summary it requires constant learning and upgrading of skills outlined in the figures above as well as the Transformational Skills outlined above in Figure 4.4.

Figure 7.10. Progressive evolution of Skills for 21st Century Technical Professionals.

STIMS Institute – President receives the coveted 2020 Merchant Medal

Dr. Krishnamoorthy (Subbu) Subramanian, President STIMS Institute has been awarded the coveted 2020 Eugene Merchant Medal offered jointly by two professional Societies (American Society of Mechanical Engineers – ASME; Society of Manufacturing Engineers – SME).


The M. Eugene Merchant Manufacturing Medal was established in 1986 by ASME and SME to honor an individual who has played a significant role in improving the productivity and efficiency of the manufacturing operation. https://www.asme.org/about-asme/honors-awards/achievement-awards/m-eugene-merchant-manufacturing-medal-of-asme-sme

Accepting the award, Dr. Subramanian shared the following brief remarks:

Following is a brief summary by Dr. Subramanian on the highlights of the work that resulted in this prestigious award:

My sincere thanks to ASME and SME. I am very grateful to the awards committee, chairman as well as all my nominators; especially Prof. Jawahir from University of Kentucky. The guidance from my parents and grandparents was the motivation in my early years. Thanks to Prof. Nathan Cook at MIT, Dr. Eugene Merchant and many others for my academic depth and professional approach Special thanks to my family and especially my wife Dr. Durga Subramanian. As a fellow industry professional, as a Chemist, as a mother and grandmother, Durga equally deserves this award! This award is also recognition of the work of a large body of people from Industry and academia from all across the globe. My sincere thanks to all of them.

In the field of Manufacturing, there are countless Physical Processes like Grinding, Machining, etc. They grow their roots through research; become visible through industrial use and yield fruits measured as commercial results. Merchant medal is an honor that recognizes the contribution to this combination of efforts and outcome in manufacturing. I am genuinely honored and humbled to receive this recognition and the award. Thank you very much!


In a world dominated by computers and Digital Technology one would wonder what is left to do in a 100 or 1000 year old process like Grinding Processes?

Whatever work I did at Norton Co. (and later as part of Saint-Gobain) stand on the shoulders of many others from the long list of researchers in the Norton abrasives Co. family such as: Dr. Loring Coes; Dr. George Reichenbach;  Mr. Bob Rowse (who invented Norzon together with Prof. Mert Flemings from MIT); Dr. Richard Lindsey (together with Dr. Hahn from Heald Machine Tool Co.), etc.

The researchers who worked on principles of grinding outside of Norton Family include: Prof. Milton Shaw, his student Prof. Nathan Cook and his student Prof. Steve Malkin and many others. I am also a student of Prof. Cook!

There are also many other eminent researchers from USA, Europe, Germany, Brazil and India among others from across the globe over the years.


Seminal work: Microscopic Interaction model : Every grinding process – from manual grinding using Coated Abrasives sanding of furniture or manual weld grinding to precision grinding of every kind to ultra-precision grinding including high tech ceramics manufacturing can be measured, modeled and studied using the “Microscopic interactions model” as the starting framework. https://stimsinstitute.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/manu-17-1209-final.pdf Such model is also needed to analyze and manage all modern grinding processes, where abrasive tools are used as Engineered Components as opposed to the traditional approaches where the abrasives have been used as commodity and consumables (and hence any deficiency in the grinding system was compensated by wearing away the abrasive tool!). In this aspect this model is analogous to the seminal work of Dr. Merchant (this award is named after him) and his model for cutting or machining.

This was followed by the drive for in-process data and its accessibility through a portable device that resulted in development of Field Instrumentation System (FIS) and its use. https://stimsinstitute.com/2016/02/16/bringing-the-science-to-shopfloor-manufacturing/ Extensive use of FIS together with the analysis method resulted in many SGA sales people (who were not engineers but technically inclined) become “problem solvers” for our customers. Hence the concept of Application Technology – AT (distinct from Product Engineering) was developed. https://stimsinstitute.com/2012/08/19/vision/

Today in the Bay Area there is a movement called “Customer Success Management” for SaaS Companies. It is almost identical to what we have then called as Applications Technology as a core competence for the hardware and manufacturing sector.

Collectively all of these have enabled for the grinding process to be seen and used more as a science – driven by measurements, data and analysis – rather than as an art. 

This was the time of globalization where traditional approaches of selling abrasives in tonnage and price alone were not sufficient. Rather the need was for generation of functional surfaces with added value. This was also the time when Ceramics Grinding in high tech. sector was emerging as a new growth opportunity. This required active collaboration with customers and machine tool builders. While it was like pushing at the end of a rope to move it forward, the System Approach model gave us a frame work for collaboration of many players based on Science and Strategy resulting in several Commercially viable end results for SGA, Customers and Machine Tool builders: https://stimsinstitute.com/2013/04/21/workshop-on-system-approach-to-precision-manufacturing-manufacturing-grinding-processes-june-3-6-2013/ Hence Ceramic Machining Technology Center (CMTC) was born. CMTC was a modest workshop with five or six machines (worth over $2 Million in total on loan from Machine Tool Companies to Norton Co. largely based on mutual trust, technology and innovation) which resulted in many new grinding process innovations, new products and new business for the machine tool partners. For details: https://stimsinstitute.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/published-paper-imece2015-52952.pdf This included novel processes for Thin Film Head fabrication in the hard Disk Manufacturing for Data Storage Technology, Machining to Grinding (M2G) processes for aerospace and wind mill gear components, etc.

This was also the time of acquisition of 100+ year old Norton Co. of USA by 300+ Year old Saint-Gobain Co. from France. The role of AT, the System Approach and CMTC was recognized as the cutting edge need for success in the Global Economy. These concepts were expanded to all abrasive applications across the globe. The Grinding Technology Centers were set up at many locations in the world (HGTC – USA, EGTC – Germany/ Europe, CGTC – China, India, Brazil, Japan, Australia). These centers have helped to organize and focus Education and Training on AT using the System Approach, International Trainee program, etc. https://stimsinstitute.com/2016/07/21/stims-institute-offers-industry-focused-education-for-fourth-year-in-a-row/ Any technology organization survives based on the commercial impact to the bottom line of the Co. Such commercially valuable outcomes have been achieved across the globe through New Test Methods, New Product and Process development, new markets and business development, new sales approach using AT as a core competence – all focused on Grinding Processes. The emphasis on AT and the System Approach also fostered collaboration across companies and industry/university. All these GTCs continue to function successfully to date, 30 years after they were established! This speaks volumes on the technical foundation and the strategy on which they were established. I summarized the System Approach – A strategy to survive and succeed in the Global Economy in a book published in the year 2000. https://smile.amazon.com/System-Approach-Modern-Machine-Books/dp/1569902550/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1509138730&sr=1-1&keywords=The+System+Approach+Subramanian

This award is the recognition of the collective outcome of many from Norton Co., SGA, their customers, Machine tool builders and other suppliers from across the globe. It is also a reflection of the collective effort and collaboration with many more researchers and faculty from across the globe.

Over the recent years the collaboration with a number of professionals has continued to further document the theoretical models and their application potentials. This time also gave me a chance to compile my thoughts into the second book: Transformational Skills for Technical Professionals, co-authored with a business school professor (Prof. Rangan). http://www.amazon.com/Thriving-Century-Transformational-Technical-Professionals/dp/0791860167/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371673516&sr=1-1&keywords=Transformational+Skills+Subramanian This book has been published by the ASME Press. https://www.asme.org/products/books/thriving-21st-century-economy-transformational

Dr. Subramanian has expanded the education of the System Approach for Grinding to many locations in India and China. New R&D center for Mfg. Research based on System Thinking and Transformational Skills has been established at IIT – M, for which he is the advisor. https://www.amtdc.org/about/profile/

New Machine tools and hence process innovation have also continued. Some of these outcomes are highlighted at  https://stimsinstitute.com/

Now Dr. Subramanian is collaborating with a professor here at UCSF school of Management to adapt many of the AT models for Customer Success Management for software product companies!

Dr. Subramanian is also involved in efforts to integrate basics of philosophy as best practice for success in professional life and modern day management practices: https://www.softpowermag.com/vedanta-for-emotional-intelligence-and-universal-well-being/ More of his essays on Philosophy and its application can be seen at: https://sipractce.wordpress.com/

Looking into the future:

Every one of the items highlighted above is not unique to Grinding Processes. They can be readily adapted for their use in any physical manufacturing process and also for many information processes. It is hoped that this award will serve as a catalyst for such expanded use across many manufacturing and industrial processes of the ideas and methods already proven and validated.

  1. Any industrial process can be seen and used more as a science – driven by Model, measurements, data and analysis – rather than as an art. 

Microscopic Interaction model

2. Portable Instrumentation System and its use at the manufacturing floor with accelerated data science and IoT.

3. Manufacturing, Sales and R&D Engineers acquire proficiency to obtain customer process driven data through sales channels for internal use (in test methods and mfg. rationalization)

4. Application Technology – AT (leveraging end customer’s process and its related know-how, distinct from Product Engineering) to leverage gain through new sales, share gain and higher margins. Today in the SaaS companies in the IT Sector, leveraging Customer Process Know-how for business success is now being developed and managed under the theme of “Customer Success Management”

5. System Approach model as a frame work for collaboration of many players based on Science and Strategy: Collaboration with customers, OEM and other partners for development and implementation of new process solutions.

6. Grinding Technology Centers:

  • Education and Training on AT using the System Approach as a frame work
  • International Trainee program,
  • New Test Methods,
  • New Product and Process development,
  • New markets and business development,
  • New sales approach using AT as a core competence
  • — all focused on one or few manufacturing Processes.

7. Collaboration across companies and industry/university.

Largely based on mutual trust, technology and innovation(e.g.):   Consignment agreement with OEM; University / Industry Collaboration.