Sunday, June 28, 2009

Your suggestions required!!

With my friend today, there was an interesting point of discussion.
Need your views as well. Please post them as comments to this post.

You like to work for a boss, who
a. Keeps a safe distance from team.
b. Comes across as knowledgeable and has all the answers when you approach them.
c. Shares their knowledge and enables others to do their work better.
d. is a liberal and does not give tough feedback.

There can be more options, if you opt for it. Please post them as well.

A wish to Gladwell

I just finished reading outliers - Story of Success.
Wish if Gladwell could explain MJ's outliers story.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Open Up!!!

I have been recently observing that one of the prime reasons for constraints in the system, is that we lock ourselves up in many ways.

It could be the lax phrase of "This is our system. It works like this only" or lazy phrase of "I thought other person would be doing it" or dispassionate view of "I did what you told me. You didnt tell me this" or most common subjugated response of "I was waiting for your approval. I was not sure, whether I can do it myself".

Some manifestations can be figured in discussions, while some under currents need careful scrutiny to remove them. In all and many many more ways, these self-constraints harm more than the system, policies, politics, external factors. A recent spate of conversations led to many such revelations.

1. In a open culture, as in IT, addressing "sir" makes you close the vocabulary and subjugate behavior is more prominent. In small teams, this is first culture that needs to be eradicated. Addressing by name, which is the norm in our Industry and if the company policy says so, follow it. Open Up to treat people as peers than as some super power dropping bomb shells.

2. Requiring Administration and Managing over sight is another issue. Why do you need a manager to check on your progress? When you work, make sure the administration and management tasks (read documentation, reporting) are done together. You will take more time, be less productive (if measured, in terms of transactions completed), but at least you open up to better feedback than scrutiny to harp on your less-skilled areas during reviews.

3.Speak up and Often: The biggest under current that is not visible and spoils every chances of success is not following this one. Restricting oneself to do certain set of transactions and doing it till it gets noticed when manager finds time, is a bad move. You need to speak up and often, share the work, be behind to get it reviewed, share the results, so that appropriate course correction is taken before it is too late. Putting a self exile on speaking to people and "I mind my own business" mentality, is sign of fear. The fear factor is the biggest drab in otherwise good profiles.

4. Understand what Managers want, Not do what the manager says: This is important differential between good work and great work. This can be achieved when you have self-mastery over your self. When a manager desires to see a result, it is important more to accomplish it in your style, than do exactly the steps manager says, and not deliver the results.

5. "Think Beyond": I was reserved till recently, with my policy to have a minimum fee to undertake work. But my recent interactions with a customer, changed that. The customer gave his price points for the work scope submitted by us. It was easy to say no to the job as there was a huge difference in price.

But after long thought and waiting to convey the decision, I decided to take the bait for first few assignments. Reverse engineering from the price point, led us to find that there are ways of optimization that we could do to deliver the job with no huge losses. Our previous belief was that we have optimized all we could do and there isn't any major overhaul required, might have lost the opportunity. If we succeed, there is a possibility for a service line, that could be unparalleled in our industry.

Open Up is the parrot line theme currently to tide over the recessionary times.

Why Goodness Fails

For many of is, goodness is to:
1. Finish your job without disturbing others.
2. Silently plod and fix issues
3. Never allow an escalation. Good people know to anticipate and avoid, rather than show and fix.
4. To accept credit as something normal and get on with next job.
5. Allowing ideas to take shape but leave it when it is ready for personal use.

Can you see why goodness fails ? Because, goodness is inherent, and hence is not visible. Since we have been taught and explained to be good citizens, we rarely strive for greatness.

When have you felt great? In school, may be when you are called on stage to get the prize. In college, may be when you win an election or person you support wins it, may be when you share the podium and receive an ovation. In professional life, when you are featured in a cover magazine of repute, quoted in journals, have a following for your social presence.

Does any of this mean, there aren't any good people than us in our group/community?

Greatness is antithesis of Good. What you do good, is not sufficient to be great. This is something that Jim Collins talks in his book "Good to Great".

1. To be great, disturb others unobtrusively. Meaning, get their time before hand or condition them to expect your communication at an appropriate time. Inform the utility in mutual interest terms.

Status reports, communication before a delivery and after a delivery, calling steering committees and discussing work are some greatness moments to be latched upon.

Missing commitment escalations are disturbances that are obtrusive. They dis-orient both you and the customer a lot, that it saps the energy levels.

2. To be great, silently plod, but acknowledge and let the issues be known to teams, management, customers. This way, the concerns are open and the way they are vanishing gives a great feeling from inside. The relief that it got over, without stress or more efforts from people who have the information, and the "way" will be more recognized than the work itself

3. To be great, allow an escalation: Escalate to higher ups to get a testimonial for services. Escalate and ask for more business areas you can address. Escalate to say when you have gone beyond the scope and worked keeping both parties interest in mind. Escalate to tell the customer the lessons learned and about project closure.

Silently delivering projects, is unappreciated and worse, is held against you at times.

4. To be great, relish the moment, make it memorable when you receive credit. Otherwise, you tend to be normal and doing normal work, not good work.

5. To be great, allow ideas to take shape and make them market friendly. When you use it for personal or internal purpose, you live with bugs, constraints, less than appealing interface, crowded functionality.

When you make it market friendly, you get to see the ways that didn,t occur to you. You get to see that people had similar needs as yours and they are silently appreciating the fact that you are helping them.

Take a look at There are so many good applications, that we feel great about using them. The fact that they are being used and recognized by individuals is a great factor than just having a good application to yourself.

You are great, only when the world knows it. You are good, when your close circle knows it. You are normal, when you alone know, how good you are.

Make it Visible

My parents have always drilled the fact that hard work pays. Well, they held me in good stead till my first job and my formative years.

After a certain threshold, they do not hold the same weight. More than work, making the work visible, is what pays and rewarded for a long time. Rather, work is to complete the projects/tasks and hard work is to make it visible !! (is it dad/mom?)

A casual chat with my sister also revealed a similar story. Her work is fine, confident, doesn't make mistakes with numbers, the work is strong support and aids well to superiors, but she feels lack of appreciative comments that she needs more often. What our parents said to us, if were true, this couldn't be the exception.

A similar tone was set in today's meeting when our head addressed my team.

"Make it Visible" was again the "parrot line" here.

A common crib was that we are not looking out for international work true to our abilities. If our hard work was to pay for us, then we ought to have scaled up dramatically with just good references created in each of our engagements.

What was lacking is the ability to ask for audience and speak of ourselves to them and give them their benefit. The audience would not come on their own. It took so much time for me to understand this point. You need to seek out your own audience one person, one company, a time to make your own mark.

How ? I am yet to start on this journey. How have you made your work visible to world and what have been your benefits?

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