Friday, 20 September 2013

My view: Systematic conservatism

Recently I was inspired reading one of our well-wisher, Poonam's Facebook feed on how she is mindful of things around her life. I could relate to her feed and put me thinking about my own self and what inspired me to be conservative.

I feel it is not being conservative but it is about being "systematically being conservative" which makes the big difference. Lot of tall leaders like Narayan Murthy, Azim Premiji, J R D Tata and likes are all known for conservatism but they all made and shared wealth. If they were conservative they would never take risks, never did bold investments, they would always be contented with what they have. But I feel they and many of us are systematically conservative. Which means, we spend on things which matter the most and ensure we respect and make best use of those things which we invest on. Systematically conservative means being thankful and mindful without being arrogant of those little/ big things around us.

I learnt my lesson to be systematically conservatism from my grandfather, Shri. Narasimha Prabhu.
  • He was financially well-off but until age of 65 he was riding to office on his cycle. I think he always treated reaching destination matters the most, while mode of travel is just means to get to the end point. 
  • After a particular age, he had to give-up his cycle, and then always preferred a shared auto to his factory as he said it will take the same time to reach yet cost less 
  • I remember he always had a list of points to discuss before he dialed any call, so that he does not waste air time during the call 
  • He used to re-use envelops he received, by re-pasting new address on the old
For more details, pls refer my bolg - My grandfather my leader 

Being systematically conservative is an approach which is not limited just to personal life, but in true sense extends to every aspect of an individual life including office. So the issue is how much you hate when you see wastage at office. In my experience, many are conservative only at personal things but rip-off when it is somebody else. Isn't this being self centered way of looking at conservatism? 

My big learning from being systematically conservative is that it helps us being humble and helps us realize that we are lucky and respect and be thankful for every thing around us.  

My leadership lesson from my grandfather

In a recent discussion with one of our customer I said that I am born lucky and the luckiest of all is that I spent my entire childhood with my grandparents at small little town Karkala. Me and my brother (Jayaprakash) were just discussing during his recent visit that how our life is inspired because of our grand parents.

My grandfather Mr. Narashimha Prabhu (1920-2009), a Gandhian by true sense was the first leader who inspired me in many ways. This blog post is very special for me as it is my gratitude, love and respect towards him.


My top 5 learnings from my grandfather my leader:

1. Discipline - Foremost important aspect of being a leader 

I have seen my grandfather in Khadar (a type of cloth) every day and I have hardly seen him miss his routine. He joined business at at age of 17 supporting his father Shri Venkatesh Prabhu (a leader in freedom movement). At work, his passion drove discipline. He has his regular checks, disciplined way of documentation and quality on every thing he does. He had amazing discipline coupled with simplicity with strong eye for detail.

My learning: Discipline is reflection of person mind.  

2. Silence is golden - Leadership is not about just about talking but doing

Leadership come in different styles and packages. But my grandfather had a unique way of leadership. He was mostly silent and speak only when necessary. He trusted his team and always gave free hand to explore and realize their own faults and learnings.

My learning: Leadership is not about quantity of speech but quality and clarity of mind.  

3. Helpfulness with humbleness 

I have seen my grandfather being helpful to many, but he never spoke of it even to his wife or children. I remember my grandmother used to know through neighbors and friends.

My learning: Generosity needs to be back with humbleness. 

4. Inner love does not need language  

My grand father like many during those days never expressed their love through words or greeting cards but through respect and caring for each other. After I cleared my 10th grade, my father refused to take me to collage for enrollment as I scored low marks. He gave me his peace of mind which my grandfather heard. I was terrified but my grandfather accompanied me for admission. He was then the Chairman of Administrative Committee of our local collage in Karkala. I was very shy as I will be now noted by all professor, but I had no choice but take my grandfather help. The admission office was in level # 1 and there was a long que and seeing my grandfather few of the professors asked us to take preferential and come ahead skipping the que. But he did not and stood in the que and helped me finish the formalities. He made me realize that don't mix issues and it made me realize I am just a common student and this even helped me stay grounded. Later I requested my grand father to join me during admission for bachelor of engineering and later during my master as well. I also accompanied him during many of his visit to leaders in the region which also has lasting impact on me even today.

My learning: Life long learning are through experience. So keep exploring ...

5. Systematically conservative 

He was conservative when it comes to self but generous to needy. It is just not just materialistic things but he was every very mindful of his time too. Be it sweeping the portico in the morning, sometimes washing his car or folding cloths in the morning. He always kept him occupied until his last breadth.

I also want to share my remembrance to my grand mother Mrs. Sarojini Prabhu who supported my grandfather relentlessly. She was also a lady who always cared for human values and respected every one with warmth and care.

For more on systematic conservative - pls. read my other blog post.

Additional link -

Picture of my grand parents during their 60th weeding anniversary


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

5 steps to build smarter team to build smarter enterprise

How do we build a smarter enterprise? What are the key building blocks of a smarter enterprise? What effort it takes to build a smarter enterprise?

These were the fundamental questions in my mind when I was traveling back after our 5th year anniversary celebration of our business. Today after establishing the basic operational governance and stability, sustenance is not a challenge so it has opened an wonderful opportunity to build a smarter enterprise and smarter growth for all stakeholders.

In my view there are two key building blocks to build smarter enterprise:
1. Smarter Customer
2. Smarter Team

All the others aspects of business are important but they all fall under one of the above two category.

My blog post focuses on the 5 steps to build smarter team to build smarter enterprise

1. Team who has basic aptitude

We can sharpen an axe to chop a tree but if you have a knife, no matter how much you sharpen you will not be able to chop a tree. So finding like minded people, self-motivated, sound attitude, aptitude, desire to learn and grow with manageable ego is first step to build a smart team.

2. Partner with a smarter external mentor

The senior management of a company are drivers of culture and may not be able to drive talent transformation very well as largely sympathetic as they are aware of internal situation and busy with day-to-day affairs and business challenges. Also these internal challenges can blind us out from confronting the brutal reality. So an external mentor who has passion for life long learning and who can also understand and contribute towards company's vision, strategy, goals should constantly drive and mentor talent transformation which is important to build smarter team.

3. Define the talent transformation vision with strong behavioral and performance improvement metric

We need fundamental changes in approach to bring smartness. Unlearning can be most difficult exercise. So defining big picture and aligning goals around big picture is the blue print which drives/ helps build smarter team. Talent transformation is not a session but a journey. Constant investment of right people, time, energy and resources needs to be allocated.

4. Define the calendar of events to stay focused 

Based on the talent transformation vision and defined metric, put a annual calendar with details for the quarter and month. In the calendar make sure you brief is not centric towards specific technology or skill, but provide a deeper subjects like application of mind, business acumen, customer centricity etc. 

5. Start talent transformation from the top

Talent transformation is not a top down approach, but starting from top provides a stronger message and strengthens the positioning that we are all students for life. Top and middle management are facilitators of this transformation and they should be involved right from the start to create eco-system of growth.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

10 steps to make cloud technology initiative successful

1. Any technology is as good as user adoption

Team readiness and organization culture is critical when defining technology initiative

2. Create bandwidth to drive change

Energy required to drive and sustain a change is significant. Management commitment is critical. Identify the brightest team member to drive and manage technology development until adoption

3. Re-engineer the processes before selecting technology

Processes automation should drive your technology assessment 

4. Involvement brings accountability

Create user groups to participate in the process of development, share responsibility and participation brings joy and reduce risk of failure 

5. Execute proof of concept (POC) but with a well defined strategy

Cloud solution can be easy to register and even easier to opt out, but drive pilots with stronger approach. POC is more critical than the final roll-out. Innovate quickly and drop-off even quicker if it fails. Choose a technology which has lower risk of experiment

6. Set-up baseline for success

Define success factors (business aspects) upfront along with project success factors and always gauge progress with these baselines 

7. Speed of success

Choose expert or service provider to drive your technology roll-out to crash time, reduce risk and improve effectiveness. Choose a partner who has the knowledge, industry best practices and who can connect with your business and fit your business culture is critical. 

8. Roll-out of technology

Share value to users, create gamification and incentive programs to motivate users, stronger awareness / hand-holding programs, structured adoption and business reviews and listen to users feedback are important 

9. Strong well define review to create / push positive change 

This is the most critical step to make your cloud initiative a success. Reviewing quality / quantity of data and system utilization is critical. Review the data and trends not the system. Until stability (for about 4 weeks) involve a system admin during review. System admin can support if there are system gaps so that system gaps does not come in the way of an effective review process. Define 30, 60 and 90 days roll-out plan. Train and re-train at frequent intervals, conduct internal certification programs, identify internal early stage adopters and publish their internal CRM success (used cases) for creating right energy among other user groups.

10. Business is dynamic and so as your technology

Sustaining any initiative is key to success of any initiative. Constantly strengthen technology as the business evolves.

Simple technology is a good formula for greater success. 

When will technology make sense for business?

Technology will make good business sense when:

Do you think technology really helps businesses to grow? Two years back many of the business leaders whom I interacted with mostly said technology can centralize and share information, provide reports without overly depending on any individual, but lately the trends are changing drastically. 

Today most of the business leaders are considering technology much beyond productivity gains. In todays connected world, technology can be a companies key market differentiator. Technology can create core competency. Technology can help facilitate customer delight and hence business grow. 

My blog post is my views on how can technology can be used to co-create value to customer and help business grow. 

In our organization we have built world-class cloud systems to create Customer delight. We have connected whole chain of operations and we have involved customer in our operations as a key stakeholders providing them access to our system. By this we have not only improved active agile way of collaboration, but also increased team work and confidence of our customers in our offerings.

Technology makes good business sense when - 

1. Technology is deployed to improve Customer experience and Customer service

Technology which facilitates Customer delight naturally becomes core competency of the company. So build an application which helps team members to facilitates higher value to customers.

2. Technology should help in understanding customer and employee expectations

Technology should be more a listening tool. Technology should capture emotional value, listen and clear noise and facilitates management to take actions which motivates customer and employees.

3. Technology which will help team members be more productive without over kill on data entry

Technology should standardize processes to enable team to perform better. While there should be enough room to facilitate new ideas so that the processes and system continuously improved.

4. Build an integrated technology solution to improve predictability in business

Connect customer, employees, product/services, business partners and community to create an healthy ecosystem to generate value to all stakeholders

5. Don't just collect data make use of it to improve business performance

Systems can provide good logical value by analyzing data and creating business indicators and warning signs. Trend analysis and future predictability reduces the risk and helps balanced business operations.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

5 steps of building recession proof career

1. Understand the big picture quickly 

Understand why your boss is asking to get a task done. Only when you can go beyond the ask you get due credit. 

2. Focus

There are lot of distraction, so make your task list, priorities, priorities, priorities  

3. Ask questions 

Leaders are born by standup else they are followers 

4. Fail but fail quickly, learn and then run (don't stop) 

5. Follow through to closure  

Don't give-up is the formula for success