Bulletproof your career with Lean manufacturing and Six Sigma methodologies


There used to be a time when certain jobs are considered as dream jobs and highly respected such as Telecom new connections and ticketing clerk in a reservation counter, teller in banks. These were all niche jobs and posts. What happened to those jobs?  Are they still in demand or the demand has reduced?  Many of those who did not want further learning or skill enhancement were left behind as clerks with same pay or lost their jobs.

Similar things happen in many industries where the job role becomes obsolete.  Many people declare their experience in their resume.  If some has learned a job in one year and got mastery over it and continued in the same job for 25 years, it does not mean that he has 25 years experience.  It is equivalent of one-year experience only. This implies that if within two years, if they do not eliminate their job and move on with a new job profile or new field, the person is bound to be outdated.   There is a wide difference between “being efficient” and “being effective”. As the old thought says, efficiency is climbing the wall faster. Effectiveness means, finding the right wall and climbing fast.  As per Toyota production system or Lean Manufacturing methods, a tortoise can be more effective than a rabbit in covering distance faster.

Contrary to the old way of thinking of highly skilled in one job and zero skill in other job, Toyota way of thinking calls for multiskilling and inherent abilities.  Higher job roles also needs knowledge in multiple domains and functions.  For example if some one joins Quality department in early career, they are expected to learn Lean manufacturing methodologies also which support Quality. They cannot say that my job is in Quality department and why should I handle production related problems. In the same way, if some one in production department should also know problem solving skills, 7 QC tools, process capability, Six Sigma methodologies.

In automotive sector, a traditional welder is replaced by a high performance Robot which also means de-skilling the job elements. If the welder feels that he wants only welding job and does not learn any further or jumps to another job where welding is manual operation, he is struck as welder in his full lifetime.  Welder should upgrade his skill further to next higher level of ability to programme the robot or becoming a Lean planner who can improve material flow through Value Stream improvements. That way, he can be upgraded to a better job profile. It is high time people understand the need for their skills relevant in constantly changing market requirements.

There is a recent threat in Automotive industry for converting petrol, diesel vehicles to electric or hybrid vehicles.  This again calls for adapting and reskilling of people across the functions to be ready to embrace drastic change in their product portfolio. Everyone should be in a position to leave the old technologies and adapt newer technologies.  Continuous learning culture will enable every one to learn every day.

Those organizations who embraced and consistently implemented concepts such as 5SLean manufacturingTotal Productive Maintenance and Total Quality Management and Six Sigma in their current working culture have demonstrated the ability to learn any thing new and move on.  This also helps in improving attitude, respect for people which also helps in adapting their jobs in any new upcoming industries and sectors.  If one is specialized in automotive in the past, they can easily move to Aerospace industry or food industry.  If some one is experience in the past with mass production or high volume production, they will know how to adapt themselves with high mix and low volume production.  They will be more adaptable to change due to their confidence in handling any situation and due to having knowledge of key principles of Lean manufacturing.

Seven Steps Academy of Excellence is helping individuals and organisations in skill development through various training modules and courses such as Applied 5S training, Six Sigma Green Belt TrainingSix Sigma Black Belt Training, Problem Solving Tools and Techniques, Policy Deployment , Daily Work Management Systems, Kanban supermarkets.

We can support organisations in skill development of their employees through inhouse training programmes and customizing to the needs of the specific industry.

As part of college to corporate initiative, Seven Steps Academy of Excellence also offers specialized skill development programmes to Students to improve their employability through finishing school.

Seven Steps Academy is one of the best training centers to get trained in Lean and Six Sigma. The faculties are really knowledgeable, and they make you learn with their
experiences. Myself after completing the training decided to work in this domain in future. They also give tips on how to pass the exam from ASQ. if you want to become a complete Lean Six Sigma professional, do the course from ASQ and Seven Steps Academy and pass the exam and get certified.

Seven Steps Academy in association with Karnataka German Technical Training Institute Bangalore (KGTTI- A Govt. of Karnataka initiative) offering this unique program and all the practical sessions of the same will be conducted at the state of the art facility of KGTTI Bangalore campus.

After successful completion of the program deserving candidates will get immediate placement as Trainee Engineer in a precision manufacturing industry.

Automobile Engineering

Course Duration : 8 Weeks (320 Hrs)


  • Career Opportunity in Fresh B.E / B Tech in Mechanical / Production
  • Design, Planning, Sourcing, Production,Quality, Maintenance, Sales & Service etc.
  • Industry Segments
  • Automotive, Aerospace, General Engineering,
  • Energy, Defence, Electronics, Machine &Cutting Tools, Mining & Construction
  • Equipment and Tooling Industry etc.

College to Corporate

  • Increased rate of corporate placements.
  • Satisfied students and parents.
  • Cut above the rest and create a benchmark above other colleges.
  • Contribution to society by producing high performing human resources.
  • Benefits to the Academic Institution

Course Curriculum in Brief

  • Precision Manufacturing Industry-an overview
  • Corporate culture- basic etiquettes and expectations
  • Behavioural and Leadership Skills
  • Introduction to Engineering Drawing
  • Geometric Dimensioning & Tolerancing
  • Various Manufacturing Process
  • Basics of Metal Cutting
  • Machine Tools- Cutting Tools- Fluids
  • Introduction to CNC machines
  • CNC Operation & Programming
  • Process Planning & Control
  • Cost Estimation, Time Calculation
  • Metrology and Measurements
  • Heat treatment & Surface Treatment
  • QA & QC and Quality Practices
  • Introduction to 5S, KAIZEN, Lean, Six Sigma methodologies

For your requirements of skill development and inhouse training programmes, please get in touch with us.

Seven Steps  Academy of Excellence is Learning and Development arm of Seven Steps Group ( A business excellence focussed organization) dedicated to Research, Training and Development in the area of Leadership, Quality and Business Excellence. Academy offers around 15certification programs and more than 100 experiential learning modules in the areas of LeanTPM,TOCTQM , Quality Management Systems and Six Sigma. It also provides Industry specific and approved  training programmes for Engineering, Automotive, Retail, Aerospace, Healthcare, Hospitality, IT and Process Industries.

Garden: Where we meet nature halfway


There are two kinds of forests on the planet. Natural forests and man-made jungles of concrete. This concrete ‘wilderness’ of tall buildings, busy roads, and never-ending highways comprise our world today, where we wake up every day to achieve our dreams and live lives of comfort and convenience. We accomplish this and more, however, at the cost of our wellbeing. If we’d look at the increasing number of people with stress, depression, and other psychosomatic ailments, we’d realise how much we need nature to heal our invisible wounds. A proverbial therapist, nature is a place that revives tired minds with its healing touch—through clean air, a quiet environment, the flora and the fauna.

No wonder, we don’t mind giving up the comfortable life of the city just to spend time in the countryside or in the woods, without the conveniences of our homes. The need to unwind and restore inner peace has become a primary need because the world we live in is dramatically different from the one our forefathers lived in.

Interacting with nature—walking barefoot on damp grass, soaking in the morning sun, breathing in the cool fresh air and listening to the sounds of chirping birds—is inarguably the greatest source of calm and peace. Since our worldly responsibilities and aspirations keep us from nature, a conscious effort to bring nature closer home could do the trick.

In the concrete jungles we live in, the closest substitute to nature is gardening. Whether one lives in a penthouse or a villa, one can build a garden of their choice. Be it Pineapple Lily orchids on a patio or a vegetable garden in the backyard, a garden can help people reconnect with nature and reap its therapeutic benefits. All it takes is a dedication to set up the garden and look after it. Nature does the rest in its mysterious ways.

To understand the benefits of gardening, let’s take a flight into space, where people have to work under difficult conditions. Up there, away from nature and its earthbound creations, there is no room for error in judgment. Yet, a lack of natural stimuli can depress or tire out humans leading to complications. A research conducted by NASA’s Behavioral Health and Performance team showed the importance of having some green in the extreme conditions of space. It also said humans can’t survive without nature, even in the safest of spacesuits or space stations. So astronauts were given seeds and plants to keep them happy, calm, and productive. Result? Today, every astronaut is a space gardener. Mike Foale, an astronaut from the ISS Expedition 8 said he used to look at his plants after waking up at the station every day “for about 10 to 15 minutes. It was a moment of quiet time.” Peggy Whitson, a biochemist who went to space too, described the feeling of having a plant in space as “dramatic”, in one of her letters from the space station.

Sow a seed and nurture it daily. By the time it blossoms into a plant, you, too, would have grown into a different version of yourself through years of exercise, meditation, and a healthy diet.

If gardening can help astronauts stay calm in space, imagine what it can do for people back on earth. As David Hobson, the famous Australian opera singer says, “I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.”

Gardening means different things to different people. Dace Jeyo, a kindergarten teacher with a passion for gardening says, “Gardening means getting your hands dirty. You should feel comfortable around manure or compost; otherwise gardening is not for you.” Dace is right. A garden needs love and care, like every other living thing on the planet. Nurtured well, a garden can evolve into a “thing of beauty, a joy forever” and a haven of peace.

Even though gardening is considered a hobby, it is more of an investment for our wellbeing. The returns are far more than the investment people make in terms of time and dedication. Gardening not only makes us healthy, but also transforms us into responsible and mindful persons. A study by Dutch researchers shows the moment one steps into a garden, the cortisol level in the brain reduces. As a stress hormone, cortisol reduction means good mood, better immune system, strong heart, and enhanced memory.

Sow a seed and nurture it daily. By the time it blossoms into a plant, you, too, would have grown into a different version of yourself through years of exercise, meditation, and a healthy diet. You will develop a strong mind and body. Researchers from around the world unanimously agree on how gardening can also decrease the risks of Alzheimer’s, stroke, psychosomatic disorders, and increase dexterity and strength, confidence, and cognition abilities. The long list of health benefits comes from a simple fact—gardening involves muscle movements and exposure to Vitamin-D that regularise blood circulation and blood pressure, and manage the secretion of hormones. Result: you will heal faster, have a healthy heart, strong bones, and be less prone to diseases such as diabetes.

Nature is an elixir that can give people a new lease of life. This is why doctors prescribe gardening as an activity to older people and individuals suffering from mental illnesses. For children, learning gardening early on in life can make them responsible and compassionate. Watching bumblebees searching for nectar or worms basking in the moist soil is soothing, but also teaches the importance of life and nature. Gardening, therefore, is the easiest route to get up-close and personal with nature and recreate our bond with it. It also renews our hope that one day, our grey forest will turn green once again.

How to silence the mental noise


An average human being is believed to have about 60,000 thoughts a day. Sometimes, we deliberately think about things, but often, we are simply unaware of the thoughts in our heads. Irrespective of whether or not we are aware of our thoughts, they consume energy and form the ceaseless chatter in our heads. All this noise creates distractions and prevents us from concentrating on the task at hand. Just like a monkey that swings from one tree to another, our mind too jumps from one thought to another, ruminating over the past and worrying about the future.

When we silence the mental noise, we will find that our mind becomes still. It becomes calm and peaceful. Our brain begins to function better, and we become more creative, efficient and alert. We begin to feel as if we are in control. And instead of reacting to stressful life situations with fear and anxiety, we begin to face difficulties with a positive attitude.

But how do we silence the mental chatter? How do we take control of our thoughts? And how do we live life positively, experiencing abundant wellness and happiness? Soulveda explores.

Breathe with awareness

“This silence, this moment, every moment, if it’s genuinely inside you, brings what you need.” – Rumi

The practice of bringing the mind to stillness by anchoring ourselves to the present is called mindfulness. Of course, mastering mindfulness requires effort and practice. One of the simpler ways to become more mindful is by being aware of our breath. Meditation is one practice that allows us to pay attention to our breath. But often, when we sit down to meditate, we might find that random thoughts interfere. Author Stephen Richards offers a solution to this in The Ultimate Cosmic Ordering Meditation: “If you can simply dismiss the thoughts by giving them no value then the breathing will find its own medium and become subtle.”

The more we concentrate and pay attention to our breath, the more we’d be in sync with the present moment. After all, we can neither breathe in the past nor in the future. We can only breathe in the present—here and now. Therefore, focusing on our breath helps us become mindful, and quietens our busy mind.

Reconnect with nature

“The silence of nature is very real. It surrounds you, you can feel it.” – Ted Trueblood

It seems our brains are wired to recharge and rejuvenate only when we are in the midst of nature. Be it by walking barefoot on earth, swimming in the sea, or listening to the song of the birds at dawn, connecting with nature helps us feel peaceful. It calms our minds and slows down our thoughts. How does this happen? David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah has an explanation. According to Strayer, nature recalibrates our senses. In the Ted Talk Restore your Brain with Nature, the psychologist talks about the invigorating power of nature on our prefrontal cortex, which is the cognitive centre of our brain. He says, the more we spend time in nature, the more our overused frontal lobe revitalises. By overcoming mental fatigue and burnout, our frontal lobe heightens our senses. Hence, we become more mindful and perceptive of everything that surrounds us.

Often, we find that we are absorbed in our own thoughts that play endlessly in our heads. But by constantly ruminating, we end up amplifying the tiniest of problems.

Immerse in work

“Your work is to discover your work and then, with all your heart, to give yourself to it” – Gautama Buddha

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to still our minds is to immerse ourselves in work—be it a chore or a passion. Ironic as it might sound, the more we concentrate or indulge in something wholeheartedly, the less our thoughts are likely to be scattered. We in turn become more in sync with the present moment, and we automatically develop mindfulness.

It is, as mystic Osho writes in his article Work as Meditation: “Work and relaxation are not contradictory. In fact, the more you put yourself into work the deeper you can go into relaxation. So, both are important. The harder you work the deeper you can relax. Work is valuable. It will bring humbleness and silence. (…) Love what you do. Be meditative while you are doing it— whatsoever it is!—irrelevant of the fact of what it is.”

Detach from thoughts

“Only in the stillness of detachment can the soul yield up her secrets.” – Elsa Barker

We are all thinking beings. But not being able to stop thinking is a disease which allows the thoughts to overpower us. Unable to find silence within us, we begin to identify ourselves with this mental chatter. The more we begin to identify ourselves with our likes and dislikes, judgments and interpretations, the stronger our emotions grow and ruin our peace of mind.

So how do we detach ourselves from our thoughts and emotions? By neither paying attention to the voice in our heads nor suppressing them. By constantly reminding ourselves that we are not our body, we are not our mind. Of course, this isn’t easy. But the more we manage to distance ourselves from our thoughts, the more we become a spectator, a mere witnessing presence. And then, eventually, we would discover a sense of calm beyond all the mental noise. As mystic Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev says in the video How do you stop the mind’s chatter: “Once there is space between you and the mind, then what the mind is not doing… what the mind is doing is not even an issue.”

Shift your focus

“Compassion, tolerance, forgiveness and a sense of self-discipline are qualities that help us lead our daily lives with a calm mind.” – The 14th Dalai Lama

Often, we find that we are absorbed in our own thoughts that play endlessly in our heads. But by constantly ruminating, we end up amplifying the tiniest of problems. In the end, we lose perspective and create bigger problems for ourselves. In order to calm the mental chatter, one can shift their attention towards others. This has several benefits. One, we’d realise that we’re not alone in our pain. Everyone deals with some problem or the other and chances are, we’d even be inspired by their courage. Two, when we help others, our focus shifts from our gnawing problems to other’s problems. It provides us with a much-required distraction from the thoughts in our head. Three, by helping others, instead of stewing in negativity, we’d become agents of positivity who bring about a change in the world around us.

How to drive Kaizen Culture in organisations


The requirement of world is changing at a faster pace than what we can imagine. Competition is so fierce in every field. Life cycle of products is reducing at rapid rate.  Car models are constantly being upgraded with new features and new technologies. New variants gets added every other day. Laptops, mobiles … name everything. It is changing for better every day.

Survival of fittest who adapt to changes and who create change.  Change for better. In Japanese, Kaizen is the name for continuous improvements. (Kaizen is trade mark of Kaizen institute).  We need to constantly shift our paradigms on how to do things. How to manufacture things better, how to deliver better with minimal waste and high value.

Some of the businesses who did not anticipate the changing needs were left behind or become obsolete.

If continuous improvements are needed, it has to be done on regular basis. It could be every hour or every day or every week as the case may be.  Change can be done by those who are close to Gemba (work place) or those who have access to the real thing or real situation.

Doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results can lead to insanity.

Kaizen is of two types.  Small, incremental improvements done regularly.  Kaizen events which are big improvements with structured planning and done with involvement of all key stakeholders of the area which needs improvement.

One of the best practice to evaluate employee involvement is based on the measure of how much extent they are contributing to continuous improvement  in the workplace.

To make continuous improvement culture effective in organisation, it is necessary for the organisation to train the employees towards right culture by providing necessary support and trainings.

Prerequisite for improving some thing is to have a standard defined which can also be referred as Standard Work. Standardized Work is tool which captures the current best practices for a process.  Kaizen is when improving that standard work by finding a better method or process or tool.

Create a training module –General on Kaizen.

Create internal examples of how kaizen is applied – with photos and videos

Conduct Kaizen training to all operators and supervisors – 1 hour module

Ask everyone to list out what can be improved in their respective areas

Get the list of all the kaizens recommended by operators and supervisors

During Gemba Walk, if someone has an idea, they can use a display board to grab attention.

Use Idea tag system.

Have kaizen traceability with numbering done at the point of use. 

Organisations need to keep a very close monitoring on what is happening not only in their specific industry but also beyond their industry segment.

Individuals need to have exposure in best practices in similar industry as well as other industry. can be measured on the number of improvements implemented by an employee in a given period.  Industry benchmark is to get atleast one improvement per person per week.

Have weekly kaizen drive

Create recognition  method

Recognize people every month based on criteria

Gemba Walks

Plan Vs actual – Production

Defects –in house

External factory benchmark visits (E.g. TVS, Honda, Bosch etc.,)

7 Wastes – Focussed workshop

Inter factory visit for kaizens

Continuous improvement  is one of the element of Lean manufacturingTotal Quality Management (TQM) and Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

Seven Steps Business transformation helps in deployment of continuous improvement culture in organisations through their flagship training programmes conducted through Seven Steps Academy of Excellence.

Implementing Visual Management to complement Operational Excellence



Every organisation strives to be best in improving productivity, Quality, Cost, Delivery, Morale and Safety  (PQCDMS) at work place.  Work place is also called as Gemba or the spot of action.  Gembutsu is the actual thing – product.

For effective management of Key Performance indicators such as Ontime in Full Delivery (OTIF), Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ), Manufacturing Lead time, safety  – near misses etc.,  having real time information at the point of use is very essential.  At Gemba, there will be many situations arise on daily basis which can be termed as process is fully under control or out of control.  For this, the real thing in the form of expected product quality – samples, trends of various variables are to be tracked in real time for the person responsible to respond well in time.  In other words, proactive information or potential problems should be made visible in the Gemba.

If the abnormality or trend is not comprehensible and not in time, no one can even attempt to grasp the situation to respond.  The key principle of Visual Management is to spot abnormalities – potential or actual well in time.Visual management works well with supporting tools and techniques such as Jidoka which is one of the key pillar in Toyota Production System.

One of the pre-requisite for Effective visual management is to implement 5S. Seven Steps Business Transformation system has proven model for deployment of 5S through their flagship programme – Applied 5S which makes implementation of 5S not only easy and effective. It is linked to various business goals such as improved Ontime performance, improved Quality, improved health and safety of employees and reduced cost.

Some of the key elements of Visual Management are:

  • Daily Performance Health Indicators

  • Hourly plan vs actual

  • Plan Do check Act boards

  • Daily priority jobs

  • Safety incidents

  • Pareto analysis

  • Project status timelines plan vs actual

Where visual management is practiced,  the visual displays and updates are usually management by the people belonging to the respective function.

Visual Management will be very effective where Gemba Walk is practiced consistently by leadership team.  When the Leaders walk through the shop-floor, they can see the problems or good condition at a glance. Where things are good, spot appreciation is given by the leaders to the to team members.  Visual management is practiced method for determining when everything is under control or out of control in real time instead of sending the data to board room for monthly or quarterly meetings.  By the time the data is analysed, the problem may not even exist or it could have resulted in serious loss due to rejections, excess inventory etc.,

Visual Management should include 5Ms such as Manpower, Machines, Method, Material and Measurements.

Seven Steps Business transformation helps in deployment of continuous improvement culture in organisations through their flagship training programmes conducted through Seven Steps Academy of Excellence.



Infertility is on the rise and is plaguing young couple across the globe and in India, 10 to 14% of the population suffers from infertility.  Especially in the urban areas, one out of six couples is known to be affected as per the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction. Fortunately, it is now being considered more as a public health issue rather than stigmatize the woman.

Reasons for infertility are varied and different among women and men.

Among women:

  • Age:- This is one of the key factors! Women beyond the prime reproductive age (19-35 years) are known to have difficulty with conception.
  • Other Factors:- This could include genetic, physiological issues with the reproductive system such as ovulation disorders (premature ovarian failure, PCOS, hyperprolactinemia, poor egg quality, thyroid problems etc.)
  • General Factors: Problems in the uterus or fallopian tubes, previous medical treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, high cholesterol levels etc.

Among Men:

  • Physiological Factors;- Such as low sperm production, low sperm concentration (less than 15 million sperm per millilitre of sperm)
  • General Factors: Poor motility (movement), morphology issues (size and shape), abnormal sperm functioning or blockage in the delivery of the sperm etc.
  • Other Factors: Other causes related to the human physiology that affect fertility could be physical illnesses such as diabetes, injuries, erectile dysfunction, endocrine disorder (hormonal), and other chronic health problems.


Factors affecting infertility in a couple:

  • Environmental factors:  Toxins, pesticides, cosmetics, preservatives, heavy metals, free radicals and industrial by-products are also known to have an effect for both men and women.
  • Sedentery lifestyle: Lifestyle that includes abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other recreational drugs, obesity, increased stress levels affect both men and women equally.

The primary step to treating infertility is an investigation that includes a few medical tests such as

  • Blood tests
  • hormone profiling
  • Imaging tests such as ultrasound that is common for men and women.
  • Other tests specific to women include ovulation testing, ovarian reservation testing, hysteroscopy, laparoscopy etc.
  • Similarly tests specific to men are semen analysis, testicular bioscopy etc.


Advancement in science and technology has ensured that there is a solution to every problem related to infertility.

Treatment to infertility largely depends on:

  1. Age
  2. Years of marriage
  3. The health of a couple.

Basic treatments include ovulation induction & timed intercourse (hormonal tablets to produce more follicles) when most of the factors are normal and the couple is young. If the fallopian tubes are blocked or scarred, surgical procedures such as laparoscopy are used.

Other assisted reproductive techniques such as IUIIVFICSI, sperm or egg donation, Assisted hatching are used in more complicated cases.

For men, approaches include medication and surgery to remove sperm blockage, retrieve sperm or even restore fertility, treating varicocele etc.

What is most important in all of the above is to be under the care and supervision of an experienced physician. Such care has been experienced by several couples at Janisthaa Fertility Centre and Hospital, located in Basaveshwarnagar, Bengaluru under the able guidance of Dr Swetha Y Baratikkae. Janisthaa is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for a couple struggling with infertility and other endocrinology problems.

We dedicate exclusive time in listening to our eager clients, which solves half the problem of reducing the stress and anxiety levels. We also take special care and efforts in educating the clients about the causes of their infertility and why a certain treatment is being recommended. This adds to the confidence and trust levels in them. Our staff is also trained in being understanding, co-operative and friendly, to provide an overall caring atmosphere.  Successful results and smiles on the faces of the people who approach us are our goals.

5 bizarre customs that intrigue us


Man is a social animal who has always lived gregariously with other humans. In fact, society is indispensable to man. He could not have developed without it—physically, culturally or intellectually. His social environment—right from traditions and customs passed on from his ancestors to the nuances of modern-day living—influences his way of life and relationships with other human beings. Certain customs even help to forge stronger bonds. As Robert A Heinlein wrote in his book Citizen of the Galaxy­, “Customs tell a man who he is, where he belongs, what he must do. Better illogical customs than none; men cannot live together without them.”

Interestingly, at a larger scale, customs and traditions make our world a diverse place. Customs, which might be the norm in one part of the world, might seem amusing and sometimes even downright bizarre to folks in another part of the world. In this article Soulveda lists five such lesser-known customs from around the world.

Famadihana, Madagascar

In the Malagasy culture of Madagascar, once in every few years, families show adoration for their ancestors by exhuming them from their burial ground and conducting festivities exclusively for them. The dead are usually adorned in silk, sprayed with perfume, and brought out for community festivities.


This custom is based on the belief that the spirits of the dead join the world of ancestors only after the body has completely decomposed. Since decomposition might take several years, the dead are exhumed every now and then and given a chance to enjoy the earthly life until they unite with the ancestral spirit. While this custom may repulse some, it is done purely out of love. The Malagasy people believe it gives them a chance to remember their dead loved ones and spend time with them every now and then.

Polterabend, Germany

An old German adage goes “shards bring luck”. Incidentally, this adage is what Polterabend, a pre-wedding ceremony in Germany is all about. This ritual takes place at the bride’s home wherein guests turn up with breakable objects. They then purposely drop these fragile items on the floor and shatter them to pieces. Mostly, objects made of porcelain, stoneware, or ceramic are broken to bring good luck to the bride and groom. However, glasses and mirrors are left intact for they are said to symbolise happiness (and breaking them supposedly brings bad luck).


An interesting twist to the Polterabend ceremony is that the couple must thereafter clean up the pile of shards left behind by their guests. According to local legend, the shards represent difficulties which life could bring, and the clean-up activity is symbolic of a harmonious resolution of problems.

Krampuslauf, Austria, Bavaria, and Switzerland

Christmas in most parts of the world is associated with Santa Claus rewarding children with their much-awaited gifts. However, in Austria and Bavaria,  Santa has a counterpart. Krampus, as he is called, is an anthropomorphic creature with pointed horns and a slithery tongue, resembling half-goat and half-man. According to local legends, while Santa rewards good children, the Krampus locks away the naughty ones in the underworld.


Alpine Europe celebrates Krampusnacht on December 5. On this day, people don masks and run about the streets impersonating the Krampus. And children, frightened of the free-roaming Krampus, promise to behave well the following year.

Monkey buffet festival, Thailand

Every year, the monkeys living in and around the ancient temple of Phra Prang Sam Yot in Lopburi, Thailand, are treated to an elaborate buffet wherein they get to feast on tons of fruits, nuts, and vegetables. In fact, customarily, residents lure these primates to attend the festival with the help of candies, and even chefs prepare an exclusive menu consisting of sticky white rice, fruit salad, and a traditional Thai dessert called Thong yod for the attendees. This custom certainly brings out the generous side of humans.

Monkey buffet festival

According to a legend, the monkey buffet festival has its roots in the Hindu epic Ramayana. In the mythological story, Hanuman, a monkey warrior, helps Lord Rama rescue his wife Sita from the evil demon Ravana. Later, Hanuman supposedly settled down in Lopburi. Thus, the local people believe that the monkeys in and around the temple are Hanuman’s descendants and treat them with reverence and gratitude.

Thaipusam, India

Thaipusam is a custom that is religiously followed by the Hindu Tamils in honour of god Murugan—the Hindu god of war. During this festival, devotees pull heavy burdens (called kavadi) and mutilate their faces and bodies, piercing 108 small spears and skewers. The sight of devotees in a state of ecstatic trance despite their bodies pierced with skewers and hooks can be disturbing but it is common during the festival.


A seemingly self-torturous custom, Thaipusam is not for the weak-hearted. Interestingly though, worshippers who have their bodies pierced with sharp objects hardly bleed. They are said to be elevated to high levels of spiritual consciousness where they seldom feel pain either. In fact, many worshippers claim that their wounds heal immediately, and there are no resultant scars. They claim it is their immense faith in the Divine being that protects them from any harm.



Advice is always unsolicited – from parents, friends, colleagues and everyone around us. In today’s times when the entire internet is bombarded with information, it can get intimidating to find the best advice from the most trusted source, especially for fertility related issues which is one of the most sought after treatments today.

Dr Shwetha Y Baratikkae of Janisthaa Fertility and IVF Centre, one of the leading fertility specialists, a laparoscopic surgeon, a consultant for high-risk pregnancies, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist provides insights below on how modern lifestyle is a misfortune on fertility.

Causes of any disease or disorder can broadly be classified as biological and environmental. More often than not, illness is as a result of an interplay of both biology and environment. One often influences the other and has an effect on each other.

The same applies to fertility issues as well!


Infertility in a couple can be due to many factors

Both male and female fertility issues are a result of biological causes such as

  • hormonal imbalance
  • chronic health problems
  • physiological defects
  • seminal issues in case of males and
  • issues of the ovaries in case of females….

Similarly, environmental causes are plenty that often provokes the underlying biological factors.

  1. Long Working Hours – As mentioned above, the stress in itself is a huge factor that has cascading effects on fertility. Studies have proven that in women with high levels of stress, often associated with an enzyme – alpha-amylase, tend to be affected more. Other hormones such as cortisol and increased blood pressure levels due to stress also play a role. Similarly, the stress in men, affects the quality of sperm, sperm count, sperm motility (movement) and testosterone levels. Often the stress of not being able to conceive is in itself a cause.
  2. Fast Food Culture – People, especially in the urban areas, due to the stress of long working hours and living conditions fail to concentrate on nutrition, exercise and weight. Fast food culture deprives people of the right amount of nutritious intake. Studies have shown a greater correlation between obesity and infertility in women and men Obesity affects fertility in men as well as women.
  3. Substance Abuse – Substance abuse or in colloquial terms, heavy intake of alcohol, tobacco and drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and even medical drugs (without consulting the doctor) affect fertility rates. In men, yet again, semen parameters such as sperm count, motility, morphology and concentration are affected due to alcohol intake. Levels of testosterone decrease and cause difficulties in attaining an erection. With regards to cigarette smoking, the chemicals in cigarettes damage the sperms and eggs, hormone production, fertilized eggs ability to reach the uterus and the uterus’s environment itself.
  4. Others – Another important cause of infertility, in the modern era, is the environmental and occupational exposures to hazardous substances. Chemicals used in processed foods, pesticides used in the cultivation of vegetables and fruits alter the hormonal system. Cosmetics, other preservatives, cleaning materials, heavy metals, and free-radicals are all toxins that are known to be related to infertility.

Fortunately, a solution to deal with the above factors is being offered now and this needs to come from a trusted source. As quoted, a visit to Janisthaa Fertility and IVF Centre, Basveshwarnagar, Bengaluru can aid couples struggling with issues of fertility, find their peace.

Schedule a free consultation and one can be assured to receive the best advice from highly skilled and experienced doctors who are equipped to support the journey of fertility and to unravel the dreams of parenthood for every couple.

5 reasons why you should walk barefoot


We are all connected with nature,” said Nixiwaka Yawanawa at TEDxHackney. The tribesman from the Yawanawa tribe of Amazon was referring to the therapeutic bond humans share with nature. Known as ‘The People of the Wild Boar’, Yawanawa tribesmen live in the lush forest of Amazon, and guess what? They walk barefoot just like most of the ancient tribes on the planet. It is one of their ways to connect with nature and reap its healing benefits.

Walking shoeless is an activity that can help city dwellers connect with nature. Unfortunately, many seem to have forgotten this ancient practice of walking barefoot. Toddlers spend a lot of time walking and playing barefoot, but once the childhood is over, the feet seldom remain naked. Referred to as grounding or earthing, the art of walking barefoot has now found backing among health practitioners despite the wedge that has grown between people and nature. Soulveda explores the therapeutic benefits of walking barefoot to revive the forgotten habit and the human’s relationship with nature.

Reduces stress, clears the mind

Turkish author Mehmet Murat ildan says, “Soil is earth’s barefoot and when we walk barefoot, two barefoot touches each other with love (sic)!”. Walking barefoot, especially over grass, refreshes the mind as it increases the endorphin levels to reduce stress and anxiety. When you walk barefoot, make sure you don’t step over rocks, glass, or any other sharp objects. Focusing on what’s in front of you helps clear your mind.

Makes you aware of body movements

According to podiatric surgeon Dr Sanjay Sharma, “Walking without footwear is beneficial. It makes you aware of your body balance.” Not only does it makes you aware of your body movements, but it also improves balance and range of motion. Walking sans footwear also strengthens the muscles and ligaments of the foot and makes them more flexible. Experts also believe that by walking barefoot, children improve their awareness of the body in space as it develops strength and ankle stability. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your feet, ankles and calves are stretched and strengthened when you walk barefoot, especially on grass or sand.

You get a good night’s sleep

A walk amidst nature on grass or a walk on the beach will set your circadian rhythm right. A study published in the US National Library of Medicine says, “…oscillations of the intensity of the Earth’s potential may be important for setting the biological clocks regulating diurnal body rhythms, such as cortisol secretion.” Experts say that those who suffer from a sleeping disorder can rediscover their sleep if they occasionally walk barefoot on grass.

Stimulates the nervous system, good for the body

As walking barefoot over grass and soil is akin to acupuncture, it stimulates the whole nervous system. The study published in the US National Library of Medicine suggests, “Earthing for a single night reduces primary indicators of osteoporosis.” The study further states that, “Contact with the Earth—whether being outside barefoot or indoors connected to grounded conductive systems—may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, ANS dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV, hypercoagulable blood, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease.”

Dr. Sharma says, “Walking barefoot improves microcirculation,” which is the blood flow through the smallest vessels in the circulatory system. A study by the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine shows walking without footwear “reduces blood viscosity” which is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease.

Helps connect with Mother Nature
Walking barefoot in nature doesn’t just stimulate the feet, it stimulates the whole body, mind, and senses as well. A shoeless walk helps you connect with Mother Nature, which in turn, boosts emotional wellbeing and provides clarity of thought.

While walking barefoot is a soothing experience, it can lead to unwanted infection, if you are not careful. So it’s advisable to avoid public pools, gymnasiums and restrooms if you are without footwear. According to Dr Sharma, “Barefoot walking must be done on soft surfaces such as clay, grass or the beach to avoid foot and ankle injuries. Walking with bare feet must be done on the correct sort of surface.”

Walking barefoot has several benefits that far outweigh the disadvantages. So, indulge in it in nature or at home. It will help you heal, physically and mentally, and help you become one with nature. As author Adele Coombs said, “Going barefoot is the gentlest way of walking and can symbolise a way of living—being authentic, vulnerable, sensitive to our surroundings. It’s the feeling of enjoying warm sand beneath our toes or carefully making our way over sharp rocks in the darkness. It’s a way of living that has the lightest impact, removing the barrier between us and nature.”

Basic Stability is essential for embarking on Operational Excellence


Many organisations work towards improvement in a big way with little success and rather with increased frustration.  Before even embarking on the Journey of excellence, there is need to evaluate if our processes are having initial process stability.  As high probability, many of the processes will be unstable and not capable of producing desired results.

Stability is defined as the capability to produce consistent results over time. Instability is the result of variability in the process.

For a process to function consistently, 4Ms Man (people), Machine, Method and Materials are some of the pre-requisites.  Let us look in to this further in to details.


1. Man:

As per Toyota’s one of the statement, it mentions that their primary job is developing people. Cars are byproducts. You can see the importance given to the people side.  In most of the organisations, very little clarity is there on the manpower requirement. Some organisations have just head count on paper without the required skilled people on ground. Some other organisations have very low morale of the employees due to the fact that salaries are not paid on time, no skill development, no good working conditions etc.,

In lean organisations, high emphasis is given to the people development through organisation wide training needs such as 5S, Autonomous Maintenance, Quality at source, Quick Change-over, Problem solving tools and techniques, Team building.  Apart from this, concepts such as Training within Industry – TWI where key aspects such as Job relations, Job method, Job Safety and Job instruction is taught in systematic way. At Toyota, TWI is used for development of people.

2. Machine:

Many organisations still function in outdated fashion when it comes to machine availability.   Machines are attended only upon a breakdown. Just having a machine is not enough. Machine should be in a position to give consistent results in terms of performance.  Where the entire operations are highly dependent on machines, methodologies such as TPM has to be implemented in a structured way. Concepts such as MTBF, MTTR are to be in use and machine availability has to be ensured such that it helps in improving OEE.  In operations where dependency on manpower is high, having back-up machines also will be highly recommended.

3. Method:

For consistent performance, having standard work, and the amount of time it takes to perform a given process needs to maintained in such a way that variation from from person to person, across shifts, or over time is stable.

4. Material:

Having the right material – it could be raw material or consumable at the right quantity, at the right quality and at the right place is very essential.  The operator should be regarded as surgeon and as important. Required materials should be always available. Concepts such as mizusumashi or water spider is one of the concept applied for internal material flow. Just in time (JIT) and Jumbiki system (for automotive) is applied parallel to ensure material availability.

Some of the impacts of lack of 4Ms are:


1. A high degree of variation in performance measures—either pieces produced or pieces per labor hour.

2. Changing the “plan” often when a problem occurs. This includes relocating labor or leaving a position vacant when an absence occurs, moving product to another machine when a breakdown occurs (and thus not producing the planned product), and stopping work in the middle of an order to change to another order.

3. It is not possible to observe a consistent pattern or method to the work.

4. Batches or piles of work in process (WIP) that are random—sometimes
more, sometimes less.

5. Sequential operations that operate independently (island processes).

6. Inconsistent or nonexistent flow (also indicated by random WIP piles).

7. Frequent use of the words usually, basically, normally, typically, generally, most of the time, when describing the operation, followed by except when

8. Statements such as, “We trust the operators to make decisions about how the work is done” (It’s important to realize that no operation will ever achieve a perfect level of stability, and thus to some degree these conditions will always exist. In fact, stability is not only a requirement for flow, but developing flow helps motivate disciplined approaches to stability—they go hand in hand. The main consideration is how unstable the process is, and how stable it needs to become in order to move into the next phase of achieving some degree of flow.

Some of the Lean Tools that help in improving Stability of operations are


Seven Steps Academy is part of Seven Steps Group helping organisations in developing internal talent by conducting various public training programmes and in-house training programmes.

Some of the flagship training programmes conducted at Seven Steps Academy of Excellence are:

Six sigma Green Belt

Six Sigma Black Belt

Six Sigma Yellow Belt

Skill development programme – Campus to Corporate – Precision Engineering

Applied 5S