Posted by aloktyagi on May 7, 2012
This is an exciting time for people working in the technology field. Technology landscape is constantly changing and not a period goes by when we don’t hear about innovation happening all around us. In fact, we experience most of the innovation as consumer sooner these days. So one has to keep investing in personal growth and keep probing – how prepared are you when such new technology opportunity knocks at your door step?
If your answer is yes – then pat yourself on the back and keep doing what you are doing keeping up with the learning and preparedness to ride the change curve. You may find yourself as someone who get sought after in the industry to lead/participate and shape the future. Good chances are you may also be creating some of these opportunities.
However, if the answer is no – you may want to start thinking what you should do to be prepared. We all know change happen regardless and time don’t wait for anyone. Sometime the challenge is how to get started and one struggle thinking through what need to be done. My advise is to find friends who are successfully keeping up with the change to understand what they do to remain prepared. You should spend more time with them and learn a lot through hand holding; seeing how others are approaching the change can be the inertia one need to get started. It is the effect of having a good peer network that supports and draws you out. Just make sure you approach it with a positive attitude and be committed to put in the hard work it requires. Also, pay attention to what need unlearning as well as at times past behavior/practices need to be let go before learning/relearning new approaches. So cherish the past, learn from the past but don’t let the past hold us back.
Finally as the saying goes - luck is when preparation meet opportunity. So invest in yourself and be prepared to make the most of the opportunity knocking on our door step. You sure don’t want to miss the excitement that is shaping in front of us to put our fingerprints on it!
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Posted by aloktyagi on February 13, 2012
Key stakeholders of a company are its shareholders, customers and its employees. Businesses are organized for the benefit of its shareholders. Nevertheless, the question of corporate priorities and which one should come first, second, or last – is a never ending debate.
From a company board and business order of priority perspective the answer would be shareholder because a company exist on its ability to attract shareholders to invest in their business. So shareholders should come first.
Another point of view remains that at the end of the day it is about customers. A customer is the one who pays both employees and shareholders. And a business that can lead to happy and loyal customers due to its focus on customers – drive the growth of the business. A growing business – lead to happy employees and happy shareholders. So you could say Customers come first.
Another point of view remains that a company need employees first who are motivated to use their skill and knowledge in creating happy (and repeat) customer experience that earn value on behalf of the shareholder. In that context – taking care of employees is more important that lead to happy customers and increase in shareholder value.
Bottom line all 3 stakeholders in a company are interrelated. And in a healthy business these should be aligned. Taking care of employees and having a good people strategy is key to the success of customers; having happy and loyal customers is key for a growing business; and having a growing business is a key for shareholders to seek return they expect on their investment; and having a company that attract investment is key in having financially strong company that can provide safe future to its employees.
What do you say?
Posted in Enterpreneurship, Personal | 1 Comment »
Posted by aloktyagi on January 16, 2012
Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. ~ Tao
I enjoy meeting people who are self-aware. I look for the opportunity to work with them wherever possible. Working with them usually turns out to be a great experience where I end up gaining more and learning something from the interaction. Self-awareness means knowing your strengths, weaknesses, knowing what you want to become, what drives you, what you care about, etc. It is a sense of who you are and a vision of the person you want to become. Usually self-aware people tend to make the most by playing to their personal strengths and compensate their weakness by working with people whose strengths are complementary to them. They are comfortable in their own skin; try to live their own life rather than mimic and be someone else.
To develop self-awareness though one should be willing to hold a mirror and seek an honest picture. As easier as it sound - it is hard to develop self-awareness. It helps to be surrounded by lot of trusting family and friends who are candid and able to provide you with an honest feedback. There are few other ways people can assess their personality traits; their strengths and weakness such as by using Myers-Briggs; DISC; StrengthFinders; 360 reviews, etc. What is vital though is be true to yourself and more we become aware of ourself - we gain acknowledgement of our own “quirks” better.
People who are self-aware usually stand out as they know themselves really well and play the role that suit them. It make them generally candid, competent and confident. Learning to become self-aware is a good starting point to grow individual leadership skill and increase your span of influence.
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Posted by aloktyagi on May 25, 2011
In various conversations – I usually get asked question that imply something like “how I got to where I am now”. My usual reply to those questions has always been something like: “My professional life is shaped by 2 things. Leading change and having great mentors”. I suspect this will remain same for my professional journey in the future as well.
On the mentoring front – I have been very fortunate to work with some of the best and bright minds in the industry who imparted their wisdom when I needed them. Some took me under their wings when I faced rough weather. Some mentored me knowingly while others helped me unknowingly. Some have now become life long friends. I found my mentors came from all walks of my professional life – people who I worked with internally in a company or outside a company; people who I reported to or bright people who worked for me shaped my thinking. Bottom line - I just don’t know how else I would have accomplished much without them. Hence - my personal experience on the mentoring front has been very rewarding and positive despite what I occasionally hear on how hard it is to find good mentors.
For budding aspirants – my advise remain to seek out good mentors. If it is hard to find good human mentor(s) then seek out good books. Right books can be decent alternative. However, before you seek out mentors – do ensure you approach them with an open mind; willing to listen; learn and act differently. Nothing turns off mentors and future relationship than mentees attitude. Mentoring is like tough love where you want to hear feedback that is hard for others to share with you. In many cases you will hear something that you have to change and not people/things around you.
On the Change front – I am driven by Change and in some regard I have been a change agent all my professional life. I usually jump with both my feet when I see Change approaching and then I work extremely hard to make Change successful. Looking back – my professional career is defined by those moments of Change – where instead of hesitation I ran towards it and make the Change a successful transition point for me. I subscribe to the notion as one of my friend used to say…”Change is just a change. It is what we make out of it”. My attitude towards Change truly helped create opportunities for me that otherwise may not be there for me. I must admit though it did not come easy. However, I enjoy this kind of change as I see it as a personal growth. I have found that Change keeps me sharp and brings the best out of me as I am driven by constant learning, growing and improving.
Change do not come easy. It is hard work and seek commitment. I have found to make the most out of Change – one has to be open and flexible to try things differently or do different things. It helps to have the ability to grasp and learn things quickly as well as keeping an open mind to unlearn past habits/things while committing to relearn new habits/things without getting too frustrated. Also, given we live in a competitive world where lots of things Change regardless due to the factors out of your control – I have found having foresight to see the type of Change coming and making/leading the Change on your own while time is on your side is more fulfilling. It is empowering and satisfying to see the Change happen through you rather than seeing the Change happen to you.
Posted in Organization Development, Personal | 1 Comment »
Posted by aloktyagi on March 16, 2011
“It was my tongue that swore; my heart is unsworn” – Euripides
We all have personally experienced, heard or seen examples where an individual or team accomplish goals that otherwise was seen hard to accomplish. It is the kind of stories that surprise people involved. You know about it when you experience it. And I am sure we all have our fair share of similar stories either in our personal life or professional life where we accomplish something that we thought was less probable. We revisit those glorious moment/period from time to time to cherish and renew our confidence on what we can accomplish.
So what set such moment/experience aside from the other ones? I believe it is how we get our head in the game and tackle our self-doubt. Doubting ourselves as we undertake a daunting journey is part of the commitment making process. And how we tackle those doubts leading up to making personal commitment towards accomplishing those goal differentiate the outcome – from winning or missing the mark.
Commitments are personal by nature and we have to go through our own intellectual and emotional journey as we commit ourselves to a cause. However once committed it propel us to take action. It gets the creative juices flowing opening up new paths on daily basis. It allows the right stuff to happen, breed determination and rally individual and team towards an unrelenting pursuit of that elusive goal/outcome. Once committed it also frees the mind from doubts and instead focus all energy towards progress and discovering creative approaches that can lead us to the goal. I have found time and again – a committed individual or team – is able to discover right path/approach necessary to accomplish the daunting goal that may have looked so hard to accomplish at the onset.
So want to play to win and accomplish seemingly daunting goals then let’s start with tackling our own doubts. Getting truly committed help accomplish those daunting goals and liberate mind from worries filled with self-fulfilling failure scenarios.
Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans. -Peter F. Drucker
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Posted by aloktyagi on September 29, 2010
Life is full of paradoxes. All of us experience it on daily basis. Business life is no exception either.
- Seek consensus or seek difference of opinion: Looking for consensus? But difference of opinion is what bring individuality and makes a place aspiring. However, you need a level of consensus to build buy-in for successful execution.
- Conflict – bad or good?: You don’t want prolonged conflict that has negative affect on the organization. They are bad. As a leader – you step in before things go out of control. However, also recognize some conflict can be positive to get the creative juice flowing. Do you know what makes movies exciting? It is the conflict in the movie story line. No conflict. No story. No fun. No success to celebrate.
- Want to lead – learn to follow: First rule when leading – can you take direction from others and make it your own? Learn to follow. Know when to lead and when to follow.
- Do you take all or give to grow: It is what we learn as kids. Share your toys if you want to play with other’s toys. By doing this you also make friends and have more fun. Collaborate and be willing to give more than what you may get out of it. Like life, business life, is also not a zero sum game. Want to succeed – help others.
- Be directly involved - can you do it indirectly through others: Aspire to be a strong leader who is closely involved with everything. Just recognize this takes away the growth opportunity of others. Know how to build trust and give room for others to grow. Learn to be directly involved – indirectly; through influence – and remain actively engaged.
- Learn through Success or Learn through Failure: As the saying goes success breeds success. However some learning come from failures. It is smart to learn from someone else’s failure and avoid your own where you can. When you fail – just learn how to fail quickly and get out of it fast.
- Make hard choice or an easy choice: Take the path of least resistance or make the hard choices that move the needle where you aspire. You know if those things would be that easy then they would not be waiting until now? No need to lower the goal – just communicate your aspiration openly so that people understand the rationale and purpose behind the tough call. However don’t need to boil the ocean on every thing. Some things can be accomplished with easy choice and taking the journey – one day at a time.
- Celebrate heroes or celebrate the team: If you are in the business of building software product – then you probably understand building product is a team sport. So how to celebrate team success while cherishing heroes – who are the life and soul of any product.
- Blame or take the blame: Leaders who step up and take the blame avoid blame. Don’t deflect. Also, find a way to build responsibility in the organization that reduces such sticky situations.
- What is important Fact or Perception: As a leader you believe in facts; data; metrics but end up tackling perceptions. Have you heard the saying perception is reality? Hold on to the facts but don’t let the perception take over the agenda.
- Strength is weakness?: How many times you have heard what is someone strength is their weakness too? Still play by your strength while keeping an eye for it to not become weakness. Watch out for the blind spots.
- Command or Seek help: Need to be in command in some situations – but other places you seek help. Actually, stronger your influence more help you seek.
And the list goes on. Point being as with everything else in life – understand how to find the right balance in every day situation. It is what makes everyday business life fun.
Posted in Blogging, Enterpreneurship, Globalization, Organization Development, Personal | 3 Comments »
Posted by aloktyagi on September 20, 2010
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. – Charles Darwin
In our life time – we saw:
- Computers came to life. And shrank in size as fast as they came while becoming extremely powerful
- Computers morphing from general purpose to special purpose that are now omnipresent in all walks of life
- Internet coming to life and connecting the whole world like never before. It compressed physical boundaries and brought cultures together. It ushered a new ear of globalization like never before.
- Cellphones came to life. I recall having no phone in our home to having phone where you need someone in the Telephone company to switch the jack for callers to connect to each other.
- Concept of Telegrams vanished. Fax machines arrived and fading fast.
- We still have Kodak moment but Kodak photo films are soon to be found no where. Cameras have gone through multiple overhauls.
- Cars have gone through such major over haul that Gas guzzlers are counting years left while being replaced with Hybrid/Electric cars or other greener alternatives
- Who knew all the Carbon we were emitting and Polythene we were dumping was impacting our world ecosystem? Now we can’t go by a day when our kids don’t remind us of our responsibility towards future generation and our need to recycle.
- Television gone from black and white to color to LCD to 3D. TV used to bring neighborhood together for everyone to know what is going on in the world. TVs are now fighting hard to keep younger generation glued and not to lose them to Internet
- Radios used to be as big as TVs. Now you can listen to virtually any radio station or create your own on the Internet
- We saw tapes/cassettes/records/floppy in all form of shape and size disappear for their digital form
- Did anyone know we will need “Social media” to interact with friends? Or our ability to take a flight and come back on the same plane from space.
- Who knew we will be growing organs to replace body parts? and progress in the field of Medicine that has extended our average life
This list does not end here. We all have our own list that we can fill based on your own life experiences to give it our own personal flavor.
Point being – almost in every aspect of life – things have changed in our own life time. Things have never stopped changing. Nor it ever will. Change happens at its own pace. Some time things change fast and vanish; some time things change slowly while morphing into different shape and size. Nonetheless things change. This is true for personal and professional life. In business life, just check out the Fortune 500 list every decade or so to gauge our ever-changing industry landscape.
Change is the only thing that is constant. Variable is how a Change end up affecting us.
One of my friend told me early on that Change is just a change. Everyone involved are equally exposed. However, some people make the best of a Change and use it as an opportunity; while others struggle. Usually, people who are able to embrace a Change get the opportunity to shape the journey and reap the reward. Of course people who are able to project Change are always prepared and they find themselves a step ahead to ride the change.
So next time – when you hear about change – ask yourself how can this Change be an opportunity for me? Our landscape is ever-changing and the next one may be just the Opportunity you have been waiting for. Go lead the Change.
Posted in Agile, Blogging, Enterpreneurship, Globalization, Kaizen, Organization Development, Personal | Leave a Comment »
Posted by aloktyagi on September 13, 2010
Earlier today, I stumbled on this video clip of John Chambers speaking to Harvard Business on few of the things changing on the organization front. It is vital in the current day and age where increasingly changing landscape and global competition that continue to shape things faster than ever before. The need to scale our organization has never been higher.
Anyway few things that we should care about on organization front:
1. Value of councils and pulling together cross functional work groups to help scale the organization. We initiated Management Excellence earlier. I am now looking forward to the Quality and Architecture council initiative to help us bring excellence in Quality and Technology execution.
2. From Command and Control to Leadership by influence. Value of Collaborative leadership (read: be prepared to give more than you get) has never been higher in our business valuing our people. Just remember life is not zero sum game.
3. Importance of Social Media. I am proud of our team who regularly blogs on our product Community Sites and participate in various forums/discussions. We are connecting with our stakeholders in more ways than ever before.
Our landscape is changing. We are no perfect by any means. However, we are prepared to learn and change and that is what counts. I am mighty proud of our organization and it is a privilege to lead such talented team.
Check out this video on YouTube:
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Posted by aloktyagi on June 1, 2010
Front line management plays a key role in the success of an organization. It can be competitive differentiator when companies are able to harness their management talent for their greater good. Consider the following on the importance of front line management:
For 80% to 90% of the employees in an organization – their direct manager is the umbilical cord that ties them to the company. This is where most of the employees interact on the daily basis, learn strategic direction and get the latest scoop happening in the business. This is where employees have personal and in most cases trusting relationship. This is where employees debate/discuss strategies; tactics get formed/morphed; individual employee formulate their opinion(s); speculate what will happen next and the outcome; individuals either get in general agreement or start to dug their heel and resist. This is where true organizational juices flow…and combined organization chemistry gets experienced. This is where strategies succeed or miss the desired mark. This is where companies are either able to bring the meaningful change successfully or miss the boat. In a nut shell – front line management is what makes a company vibrant, healthy and successful.
So managers on the front line has a demanding job. It is hard as they are several layers removed and at times may not have all the necessary information or visibility around key decisions. In large organization there is usually cynicism to begin with – particularly when an organization is experiencing change. Managers are typically left with the tough job to interpret/implement strategies and engage organization to make things successful. This is especially hard as organization gets larger; distributed and employees working remotely. So what should a front line manager do when things are fast changing and ambiguous? Or when there are strategies that you haven’t bought in yet and has direct impact to you/your team? There are more grey scale regardless with no clear black and white choices exist. So how do you communicate when emotions run high?
One of my mentor early on drilled in my head that communication is what’s received. It is not what’s sent. You may be thinking you are doing a great job communicating/sharing but it won’t do good until people have absorbed the message; understood what it mean to them and its impact in their daily life. More often it takes the multiple effort to communicate the same thing in multiple way for message to sink in before people start to buy in. This is especially true when things are fast changing in an organization that is operating under the pressure to perform high and everyone is expected to do more with less.
While the job of a manager remain tough – here are few thoughts on what a front line manager can do to help make things easier:
First and foremost acknowledge the responsibility that comes with the management role. It is a humbling responsibility and come with its own expectation. Being a manager is not an entitlement. It comes with great responsibility to lead your people. I strongly suggest to invest in yourself and learn/read about best management practices. Subscribe and read HBR or other prominent columns dedicated to management. Find a peer group or mentor where you can discuss situations to understand how others have handled similar scenarios. Here is a point of view on being a responsible manager.
Always seek to understand the big picture. During one of my regular Q&A session with my extended management team I was reminded that “Knowing” a strategy does not mean we “Understand” the strategy. My sincere ask to folks in management: you owe it to yourself and your team to “Understand” the strategy. Half the battle is in showing up and engage your respective leaders; ask questions and use every forum available to you to understand the strategy.
It also help to know what is happening in your competitive landscape. Read your industry, competition and market place trends. At times it help put things in perspective on why a business is acting the way it is. Usually you are not alone and market pressure impact competition just the same. It helps understand the business pressure that leaders are dealing with whether it is about growing top line or managing bottom line; understand technology/product rationalization/changes needed; understand cross sell or up sell need; seeking improving the level of productivity; seeking kind of skills/experience need for the future; stretching $ to gain improved operational execution; etc.
Learn to differentiate between Strategy and Tactics. Most often people struggle with the tactics and not the strategy. Tactics has direct impact on people day job. While good tactics make strategies successful – conversely bad tactics make good strategies seem bad. And good organization is where tactics change/morph that is necessary for an organization to embrace and make a strategy successful. There is lot more freedom than management team may believe on their impact in arriving at appropriate tactics. Front line managers can help arrive/morph tactics based on the culture of the organization and what can work with employees in a company. Also feel free to change tactic that is not working. e.g. Building an agile organization is an example of the strategy. How an organization achieve it is about tactics.
Once you understand the strategy - Own and make the strategy your own. Ask the question – do you believe in the strategy? Once you believe in the strategy – it will help you participate in arriving at the tactics necessary for the strategy to succeed. This also help you fill in the blank when things are ambiguous and not everything is crystal clear. It will help you deal with grey matter.
Proactively engage your team and communicate strategy with credibility. Use communication style that works for you – written, verbal, personal, large team setting, etc. Share strategy as if it is your own and why it is important for the business. Share both side of the coin. Call out the challenges as you emphasize the strengths around why the strategy makes sense for a business to take. It is better calling out what to do to mitigate challenges (as they become tactics) for successful outcome.
Repeat, Repeat and Repeat the message. Constantly communicate in appropriate setting depending on where team stand on the strategy and every individual perspective on things.
People are not afraid of strategy. People are afraid of the changes they usually bring. And not all changes result in everything positive for every one involved. At times changes are hard. Show empathy when sharing change as individuals struggle to grasp and understand the reasoning associated with the change. No need to be just marching to the orders or pushing things down. Corporate world is not tuned to the level of discipline expected in an Army. Frankly orders and mandates takes the fun away of working in an innovative work environment anyway.
Lastly, watch what you say when in private. This is where I see most people struggle. This is where either we help an individual get over their concern and understand organization strategy better or we leave them with more cynicism. This is where we help build credibility that is needed for an individual to understand and overcome their own inhibition. Now this do not mean managers are expected to remain formal all the time or hide under their corporate cloak. Being personal and relating to people is what makes us human and build relationship. Everyone has their own way to remain personal and still share the message we believe in.
Posted in Agile, Blogging, Organization Development, Software Development | 2 Comments »
Posted by aloktyagi on May 8, 2010
This is in continuation to the earlier post…Here are few things I do more consciously than ever before in my own leadership journey:
1. Hire bright people and get out-of-the-way. It has been my rule #1 forever. Leaders are responsible for bringing in the bright talent and establish right organization processes/structure necessary that encourages desirable behavior and reduces power broker in the organization. It helps when decision-making can be spread at appropriate levels for an organization to scale and be efficient.
2. Establish organization/individual expectation. It help to establish aspirational goals while providing safety net. It is important to provide safety net to take away the fear of failing. However, a stretch goal is worth having to bring the best out of our collective people plus it surface challenges that need various people to collaborate to solve and bring high tide in the organization.
3. Avoid bad mouth your peers; superiors; etc…it neither help build relationship nor it build personal credibility that is needed to have collaborative relationship. This does not mean to be chum with everyone. It is ok to have disagreements and learn to share them professionally. Also, it is ok to occasionally vent – we all are humans and need emotion release at times to clear the head. I find it best done in private and with a friend that you confide. Just don’t take things personally and start dis-crediting or demonizing others. Seek to understand. I find it helpful to focus on the intent rather than what I hear on the surface that cause folks to react negatively.
4. Where possible establish cross functional workgroup for problem solving. It help broader organization engaged to address the organization challenges. Also, overtime it develop collaborative behavior towards tackling problems together and arriving at solution that has broader organization view-point. More often than not – I am surprised by how much organization want to participate and solve business/organizational challenges. Actually they will arrive at the similar quality or better solution that a leader may have but now with an increase sense of pride and ownership that is needed for successful execution.
5. Find a way to call out your perspective as workgroup discuss things. However, this is usually the hardest thing I have encountered for me to accomplish thus far as I usually have a perspective or two to share in most dialog happening in the organization. It is hard for team to remove positional influence that leaders carry when they share their perspective. It is far too common for team to take a leader’s perspective literally as a desirable “outcome” – while that is not what you may imply. How things get said and what gets said matters to the individuals in the room. It is easy for any leader to trample and push personal agenda through leaving team baffled. As a leader one need to be consistent here day in and day out as I have found this to be hardest thing to achieve.
6. Remain open – to the point be willing to make/accept a decision that goes against your own personal conclusion as the team recommend one. This does not mean just accept what get recommended or accept every recommendation. Of course, as a leader ask questions to ensure recommendations meet the objective and goals established for the initiative as you or team arrive at the decision.
7. Dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity – this is another reason where leaders quickly try to take the steering wheel back when things become uncertain. Everyone has their threshold of dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity – before our control-freak DNA takes over. This is where patience can be a real virtue – however it is usually in short supply in such situations when impatience run high. Finding your own comfortable zone during uncertainty is personal growth and leadership challenge.
8. Dealing with Conflict – when to step in the organization conflict? Do you let it just go and wait for it to be sorted out between individuals/groups? or should you step in the moment you hear about it? Wouldn’t you want involved individuals to use conflicting opportunity to work things out together? I find healthy conflicts are the perfect learning ground to breed future leaders; grow and shape characters. I don’t believe in keeping such conflict prolonged though. I usually get involved sooner rather than later. However, when involved I attempt to not take any personal side or protect individuals. It helps me when I focus on the merit of the ideas and encourage all involved to bring every idea forward including the conflicting ones. By being involved at an appropriate time reduce the situation from becoming a political football. Also, now team has learned a vital lesson to deliberate for better ideas to survive.
9. Create an environment where people collaborate naturally. Some part of it is an individual reflection whether as a leader one is collaborative or not. Most will say we are collaborative. And we all are to an extent. However think are we collaborative beyond our own territories – particularly when it come to problem solving where you may have to give up something you control like your resources/priorities/etc to other business to solve bigger picture? I have found it helpful to think whether my decision or emotions are due to what I am going to lose in a situation or the merit of the idea. It helps taking high road in such situations. Helping business in broader challenges to solve usually result in with better solution for everyone involved.
A Collaborate natural environment is where individuals on their own engage their peers to share best practices; solve business problems collaboratively without expectation and arrive at mutual recommendation that is in the best interest of the business.
10. Lastly, as a leader don’t do the work or make decision that is actually someone else responsibility. Stop it. You hire people in a particular role for a reason. Fix the situation that is causing you to do their work. You may find coaching/feedback will go a long way. Just resist the idea of doing it on your own. It kills team’s collaborative spirit. Plus now you have a dis-empowered team around you making it overall a weaker team. As the saying goes “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”. So go teach your team how to fish.
Posted in Agile, Organization Development, Personal, Software Development | 3 Comments »
Posted by aloktyagi on May 3, 2010
Command and Control style leadership is outdated. Gone are the days when an organization look up to the leader and expect all the answers – or have leaders that expect to answer everything. It limits what an organization can accomplish. Leaders who expect to have their fingers in every hole and micro manage stops much of the organization on the track from making/owning any decision on their own. There is more second guessing as people get more concerned with what the leader “think” rather than arriving at brighter solution together.
Command and control structures are autocratic and implies go around dictating what needs done. In the current day and age it should be more about consult and develop.
We now live in the age of crowd sourcing and working with web of relationships spanning complex business networks of employees; customers; partners or other stakeholders. It is the age of co-creation where people are empowered to tap into all available sources needed to arrive at the best possible solution. Organizations are far too complex these days – evolving through multiple acquisitions; increasingly distributed; remote; decentralized and global. Time and cost remains on limited supply and one just can’t go around telling people what to do. Nor a leader should assume the role of a super hero by making every decision – every time.
So for an organization to be successful and to scale it need to run in an “All-wheel drive mode” rather than “Front wheel drive mode”. Leaders have the responsibility to hire the bright people; put right process in place that remove silos and bring agility; establish key expectations and let the organization bright talent do their job. Leader should empower the team; coach them; but don’t meddle or micro manage them.
This require change in Leadership expectation to be more of leading by influence. Collaborative leadership is about building relationships; championing others causes and trusting the right people to do their job. It is about seeing others ideas succeed and joining causes that help create a brighter outcome while influencing individual perspective.
It is important to understand though that this is not about painting an altruistic view of the world where leaders are simply figure-head. Delegation does not absolve any leader of their responsibility. Leaders have to make their own set of decisions that they need to deliberate with their team to carefully arrive at the outcome that usually has broad organization impact. It just means make your limited set of decisions and leave the rest to the trusted organization.
To set the stage for collaborative leadership – it is vital that the leaders let go off their pride and any past inhibition. It start with putting their trust in the people that they work with. This is a hard transition for a lot of grey hair leaders – who grew out of Command and Control structure. It is hard for several reasons – (i) that is what they learned as they grew up in such a structure (ii) their mentors who typically were extremely successful ran their organization in command and control fashion (iii) school of thought existed and management gurus spoke to the effectiveness of such command and control structure….and lastly (iv) the hardest thing here for any person is to change what made them successful thus far.
It is easy to make a case when something is broken – but how to change something that has actually made you successful. How do you let go off such traits that you pride and your ability of getting things done by running tight ship? Now before I go forward – my own personal acknowledgement - I had been part of this camp as well and learned first hand (probably continue to learn) the challenges involved as part of this transition.
I suggest the transition from Command and Control to more Collaborative style leadership starts with an acknowledgement. Just like any alcoholic anonymous participant – first acknowledge the individual leadership challenge as one attempts to change individual behavior. One need to be willing to change and embrace personal growth to be credible here.
In the next post – I will share few things that I have been doing more consciously over the last couple of years than ever before as I reflect on my own leadership journey.
Posted in Agile, Organization Development, Personal, Software Development | 4 Comments »
Posted by aloktyagi on March 10, 2010
Life is about rhythms.
Establish good rhythms and life become humming…likewise fail to establish rhythm and soon we are panting leaving us out of breath.
Rhythms are important both in personal life and in professional life. Right rhythms help achieve what we care about and bring desired change. Like I have some rhythms around personal life such as weekly sport activity; weekly movie night with family etc. Likewise I have personal rhythm around things where I am attempting to change something. Like my desire to reduce my weight. Here I have tried numerous changes to my regular routine (diet/exercise) although I have yet to find the right rhythm here.
Same can be said true on the organization front. How many times we all have been part of initiatives that seem great at the onset and started with best intentions – only to see them fizzle out? We all can count our fair share of such starts and stops.
Hence it is important we establish the rhythm – whether it is for our everyday work (our day job) or when we start something new organizationally. I tend to avoid starting new initiative if I am not able to find establishing an operating rhythm around it. Finding that systemic balance is bliss making organization to “move the needle”.
Like I believe in 3P – People, Product, Process. So my daily life at work is divided between these 3 pillars and I have regular activities around it. On People front- I have various work rhythm like having monthly town hall style meetings; regular 1x1s and recognitions; etc. Around Process – there are process health checks; retrospectives; weekly dashboards; etc. Around Product – I have weekly project reviews; architecture reviews; product demos; etc.
So what establishes an operating rhythm? To me it means something that we make it “Regular” part of life and “Measure” it periodically to know our progress. Idea being – leveraging rhythms can help with the desired change we seek either individually or organizationally and forced habit over time become part of our DNA. I am glad no one reminds us to breathe every so often
Posted in Organization Development, Personal, Software Development | 1 Comment »
Posted by aloktyagi on January 27, 2010
If you have not heard about Net Promoter Score (NPS) – do yourself a favor and learn about it. Some links are here, here, and here.
In a nut shell it is about building more promoters of your business than detractors. More customers speaking good about your business the better. It takes a whole lot of effort knowing what customers want and what you need to do meet their need to move the needle on NPS. It requires cultural shift within a company as organizations embrace the concept. Good thing is NPS is great for business hence a feasible sell when starting a new journey. Done right companies grow brand; build trust and establish ever lasting customer relationships.
Consider some of the examples from business perspective:
Loyalty Effect: Depending on the industry, little increase in retaining existing customers (say 5%) can improve a company’s bottom line profitability between 25% and 85%. It is a high margin business.
Cost of Sale: Typically, acquiring new customers is a costlier and some would say low margin business than selling more to existing customers. Some study suggests it often costs 5 to 10 times more than selling to an existing one.
Word of mouth: Customer who are promoters is nearly 6 times more likely to be loyal; buy more again; and recommend your products to others than one who are fence sitters.
It goes other way too: Each unhappy customer and detractors will share their grievance with at least 9 other people. Actually few vocal one will go long way sharing their complain and spoiling customer relationship. So engage detractors proactively.
Studies and analysis across companies now suggest that word of mouth is usually the leading driver in generating leads and business opportunities than other mechanisms. Whatever you believe though knowing what your customer think is important (and good business)…actually much more important in the connected world. Social networks now wield significant influence on us as customers when we consider buying product or services.
Posted in Agile, Kaizen, Organization Development | Tagged: Customer Experience, NPS | 2 Comments »
Posted by aloktyagi on January 26, 2010
In the current day and age – web technologies has made building communities very easy. Also, Communities are extremely helpful in solving everyday challenges and come in every shape, size and cause. Social communities come together for common good and find each other supportive that see greater success. However, be watchful while building social communities to ensure it provide the desired result and not end up in a mob mentality.
|Dictionary Definition: A group of people having common interests
||Dictionary Definition: A group of persons stimulating one another to excitement and losing ordinary rational control over their activity.
|Come together for a common purpose to help each other and governed by community defined common rule.
||Find themselves to be together for a singular action. It encourages members to act in anonymity
|Support each other for the greater good. Driven by sharing and participating
||Strongly peer enforced behavior typically by the leading vocal voice towards achieve singular goal.
|Knowingly join the community to contribute and get help. Long term commitment
||Come together to achieve singular cause (usually negative). Community interests are not the driving agenda.
Open to every day need of the community
|Open to the most vocal voice and typically prevails all other agenda.
|Fosters dis-agreements and healthy dialogue seeking better answers
||Shuts down voice of dis-agreement. Usually targeting that erupts in flame wars
|End result: Get the best out of people who act in a constructive social experience for the greater good
||End result: People act differently in a group that they would otherwise not do individually. Usually resulting in less desired social experience.
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Posted by aloktyagi on December 12, 2009
“Your own resolution to success is more important than any other one thing” – Abraham Lincoln
Simple formula for success: Make commitment on regular basis – large or small – with a conviction. And then do whatever it takes to make it happen.
At times we just fail to commit either for the fear of failure or trying to play safe. Don’t. You learn a lot about yourself when you fail. Shy away from making a commitment and sooner or later learning process stop – so does the growth. That day main purpose morphs from doing that extraordinary thing to just getting by.
Kind of commitments we make and how we live up to those commitments – shape us and our destiny. We don’t stumble into greatness – it is usually an outcome of conscious/committed choice and lot of hard word. When JFK reaffirmed America’s commitment to land a person on the moon – it was a conscious choice; big commitment and lot of hard work of enthusiastic people. We chose to go to the moon and not stumbled on it. It was the commitment that made the difference!
So make those tough commitment that are required and learn a lot about yourself going through the process. Remember – we fail to learn; not learn to fail.
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Posted by aloktyagi on October 27, 2009
Although it is an hour long video – but captures well why in today’s world it is vital for everyone to remain connected with their customers and help spread ideas. Also, Seth has great delivery and captures this topic so eloquently. It is fun to hear some of his usual examples around slice bread or purple cow. Anyway – enjoy.
Posted in Blogging, Personal, Software Development, Startups | Leave a Comment »
Posted by aloktyagi on October 27, 2009
I will be in Atlanta week of Nov 9th attending Summit - Sage annual customer event. I am looking forward to catching up with lot of our customers; business partners and colleagues from different businesses. There are plenty of good sessions planned and opportunities to have dialog around what is happening in the MAS 90/200; MAS 500 and Accpac world. Ping me if you are attending Summit. I would love to catch up.
Posted in Accpac, MAS 500, MAS 90, Sage Software | Leave a Comment »
Posted by aloktyagi on August 25, 2009
We live in a time where communicating to broad audience alone one way has limited reach and stickiness. To make a message sticky and gain viral spread – you want to communicate through your audience. You want to foster a community of influencers who can help spread your message and communicate for you.
Ask someone who is running a business and they will more likely suggest that bigger risk they run is not getting adequate market recognition making sales cycle harder for them. Putting businesses in a position to not able to compete effectively in the market place. Unless you are doing some ground breaking invention – not many will cite they run technology/product risk as the primary reason to go out of business. Market risk usually trump over the product risk. Largely products adopts and evolves to follow customer/technology life cycle. At least until it meets a disruptive trend.
Several well known Marketing gurus have suggested how to effectively target marketing message to create the viral adoption taking “Marketing” from job function perspective to “market-ing ideas that spread” broadly. e.g. Seth Godin…around his thought process “Ideas that spread – wins” or Tribal management. or Forrester on its analysis around how to create Groundswell. Web is littered with such case studies and adoption stories – some more successful than others.
It is one of the reason - more businesses from the get go are increasingly embracing social media and encourage employees to rather share ideas broadly. Folks will invest from the start building community of developers/influencer/promoters needed to give business a market edge. Taking the discussion beyond Marketing department to engage every one involved in the endeavor to help promote your business; ideas; product; etc.
At the end of the day ask yourself – who best positioned to spread what you do best and all the creative ideas about your business than your own employees. So start the journey with your team and go get your ideas out…
Posted in Agile, Blogging, community sourcing, Enterpreneurship, Innovation, Internet, Organization Development, Startups | Leave a Comment »
Posted by aloktyagi on August 12, 2009
While talking to few acquaintances who are in the business of building different kind of software (Attention based; consumer product; SaaS; or others) than on-premise enterprise software products – it is interesting to observe similar discussion. This is probably the core nature of software business. At the end of the day it comes down to 2 set of metrics driving business:
1. Acquiring new customers/members/subscribers/etc. More and more businesses now run calculations to understand the cost to acquire new customer/member. Cost to acquire new customer usually is much higher than many would guess, if they had no clue. It gets costlier in mature industry where traditional market is about replacing someone else’s product. Also, it can be costlier in the web world where there is now actual cost of goods sold (think of all the IT infrastructure that goes around delivering a service) as opposed to the cost of CD.
Question usually gets asked: Beside product strategy to attract and differentiate offering from competitors – keep cost of customer acquisition in check; what other ways to generate traffic/leads; foster communities; target competition; create winning buzz; adjust pricing or terms; bundle products/services to make it more attractive; etc. Increasingly more web based product focus on marketing presence on the local/industry circuit from the get-go rather broadly within ranks via blog/communities to earn credibility. Increasing emphasis on Marketing too important just to leave it to dedicated few – every one has to play.
2. Retaining a customer. It is about understanding the likelihood of customers staying on the product. Generally a combination of understanding attrition rate (as some folks leaves the fold) and knowing life time value of a customer/member. Although harder to find, however, there are industry best practice metrics for the type of busines one can use as a guideline. These days businesses (particularly on the web) have a greater understanding of trends among its existing customer base. One suggestion: if you don’t already know about your customer trends – invest quickly and gain better understanding. By the nature of it -Web based businesses know well how many of their customers renew membership; what is their average monthly dues; what %age of customers usually don’t renew; on an average how long customers remain a member; what feature gets used most; demographics details; etc. Likewise, enterprise software products – SaaS or otherwise have similar metrics to help project maintenance or recurring revenue.
Question usually gets asked: What needs to be done to keep a customer happy using our product/services? What features to add (particularly that generate stickiness); what pricing lever to play; how to provide value without disrupting the apple cart; what promotion to have; etc. To find the secret formula that can help a customer retained longer paying healthy dues – is what makes a business sticky and profitable in long run.
So to remain growing – it is about adding more new customers than the customers leaving the fold. Visualize a funnel – add more while few trickle away. A math described easy but takes an organization with a winning attitude to achieve…
Posted in Blogging, Enterpreneurship, Internet, Software Development, Startups | Leave a Comment »
Posted by aloktyagi on August 8, 2009
This one is funny. It takes one to start the party…
Also, remind me of a quote…”one person can change the world”
Posted in Personal | Leave a Comment »
Posted by aloktyagi on April 28, 2009
Last few days I went through two separate incidents reminding me of poor business applications resulting into bad customer experience that can easily be avoided – should customer view point is considered while automating any business process.
1. My elder daughter who is now 17+ was in the process of buying a car. I decided to have her apply for an auto loan where she can be a secondary co-applicant with me – hoping it will start to establish her credit history. We spent multiple hours at one of the major national bank filling out the paper work, etc. only to be reminded after few days that loan can’t be granted with her as a co-applicant given she is a minor. How hard it is to have a simple work flow in the loan application process to error out on the age of a minor while filing the application when certain conditions are not valid? Think about the countless hours wasted of the banker; someone from their lending department and leaving customer with a bad taste who unnecessarily have to go through this long process.
2. A national university suggests we pay bill on-line to get student registered to their college. We all conduct commerce on-line and now assume certain level of service. However, this university only accepts MasterCard as an acceptable form of payment. It does not accept Visa cards or other popular on-line payment forms. Visa and MasterCard are the big gorilla in the credit industry. In fact, hands down Visa is #1 in the industry with 60% of the market share. MasterCard comes second with close to 30% market share. We happen to be fortunate and had few days left before the deadline for us to apply snail mail way posting cheque in mailbox. Why tout on-line when you can only serve a percent of the customers?
Anyway, it brings me to the point – automating business processes are to provide improved customer experience. Making business applications usable and customer connected is important.
We experience similar trend in the enterprise software industry – particularly products that have been around for decades and has accumulated lot of features over time. But if those features are hard to use and don’t provide basic reminders or simple error checks – what is the point as they anyway end up in lost productivity and unsatisfied customers. Just ponder – how few features get used when the product is difficult to navigate and hard to use. Feature rich is good – but product build without customer experience in mind is simply not a recipe for success. Applications has to be usable and not just functional to serve desirable customer experience.
Usability matters and it is much more than just cosmetics.
Posted in enterprise, ERP, Kaizen, Software Development, Usability | Leave a Comment »
Posted by aloktyagi on April 15, 2009
I love reading books. Books have been helpful and insightful in guiding me all along. Beside several great mentors who supported, coached and guided me along – I credit few good business books in shaping my thought process thus far.
My younger daughter, Mansi, is another bookworm. Over the last 2 years or so – I hardly find her sitting idle. If she has no home work or other chores to do – a good chance is that she is reading some book. She usually read fiction books that come in series.
Yesterday, I asked her to provide me a list of the series of books that she has read during the last 2 years or so. Here is what she provided me a short while later – complaining she can’t remember all. I also asked her to include number of books in that series she has read.
- Keys to the Kingdom 7
- Spiderwick Chronicles 8
- Heir series ( Warrior Heir, Wizard Heir, Dragon Heir) 3
- Harry Potter 7
- Series of Unfortunate Events 13
- Nancy Drew 57
- Flora series ( Flora Segunda, Flora’s Dare) 2
- On The Run 7
- Pendragon 10
- ( The City of Ember, The People of Sparks) 2
- ( The City of Stars, The City of Flowers , The City of Masks) 3
- Twilight Saga 4
- (Nobody’s Princess, Nobody’s Prize) 2
- Secret of Droon 8
- Chronicles of Narnia 7
Incredible!!! I hope she keeps up with her book reading spirit as she grows up. It also explain all those trips to the local library every other week or so to drop off and haul the next bundle.
Posted in Blogging, Personal | 1 Comment »
Posted by aloktyagi on March 16, 2009
Are you the CEO of your destiny who is investing towards your future – learning and sharpening the game?
Great musicians never stop trying to improve; great athletes never stop trying to improve – so why should that not be true for everyone else.
However, it is rather common that many of us stop investing towards learning once formal education is over. Class room education may stop but quest for learning and keeping up with the changing landscape should remain high on the personal agenda. Whatever it is that one want to be better at – can be better – should a person keep hunger in the belly to learn and create opportunities to apply.
It remain a key difference that set apart individuals who succeed from others. Successful individuals never stop applying new learning. They can be gauged by their curiosity to learn and apply everyday. One key metrics – just check their book shelf. It is common for them to read several books a month.
So ask yourself – what is competing for your time that takes away personal obligation towards investing in yourself and learning?
One way is to make a commitment – find books/on-line material/social networking groups/etc. that are relevant to an individual profession and get started. Good books can be the single best personal investment and life mentor.
I say let’s start today.
Posted in Enterpreneurship, Kaizen, Organization Development, Personal | Leave a Comment »
Posted by aloktyagi on March 5, 2009
Now you know why anything and everything I think any given moment is so important for the whole world to know. It is not just an isolated case of having short attention span.
I gotta run and tweet… make sure you are following me on the twitter <grin>
Posted in Blogging | 1 Comment »
Posted by aloktyagi on February 10, 2009
If you ever need to know any kind of charting/visualization technique - look no further. Check out the periodic table of Visualization methods. It is interactive – so give it a try and hover over.
Posted in Blogging, Usability, Visualization | 1 Comment »
Posted by aloktyagi on January 26, 2009
Tough time present opportunities otherwise not available. Current economic environment is just one such opportunity.
Much depend on how we as individuals act and enable others to act to make the best of it. It is our collective attitude that determine how an organization will fare as the rough weather passes.
1. Know yourself – recognize your strength and weakness. Position where your strength can make a difference
2. Work with people, regardless of their position, who share optimistic perspective on things (equally important shield yourself from individuals with negative attitude)
3. Know where you are going; bring focus on critical few; and make hard choices necessary to accomplish
4. Have sense of urgency to achieve. It should be driven out of what you plan to accomplish and not fear. Fear usually motivates but in the wrong direction
5. Roll up your sleeve and get involved directly with your customers, products or whatever your line of work. It helps appreciate perspective otherwise missing
Lastly – communicate openly and candidly.
Remember, in the current environment – it is high time to demonstrate the winning attitude and make a difference. Opportunity is knocking at our door step – question is who is prepared to respond?
Posted in Agile, Blogging, Enterpreneurship, Innovation, Organization Development, Personal | 1 Comment »