Trust the work, let it show the path

When you set out build a remarkable piece of craft, you find it hard. You look for external motivation. Building every piece of the craft takes own time and might not play out well. The feedback you receive from your supporters and followers might not help you progress further. Schedule slips. Actions get delayed. Something coming to reality moves back to dreams. A reverse drain. You might even start forcefully ignoring the urge to move ahead. You blame it on distraction, very busy occupation and something related to destiny. Many wannabe entrepreneurs, artists, authors, creators face this reverse drain.

This might be due to the pressure you built to focus on the craft than your work. You should trust the work and build the craft. As your trust builds, your craftsmanship builds. Slowly, the crafts you build become better and one day, your craft might become remarkable. If you keep building remarkable craft as a goal, you’ll miss it soon. To build a big business, try building a business. Then build a business that can grow. Be in a business fully to grow. You’ll grow. The business will grow. By sometime, you’ll have a big business. Same is true with other crafts too.

Trust the work and let it build a path for your success. When you focus on success, you might go after shortcuts. They lead you to the path of failure. Instead when you focus on work, you build expertise, network and a chain of small wins. It leads you to the path of success.

be a #dreamerdoer

Reinvention is a necessary rule for playing at your best

Reinvention is not a favored action in several established firms. The enterprises grow through an evolutionary model. When you are part of a startup, you are touched by everyone’s energy. You volunteer and assume responsibilities based purely on the result the company should achieve. Processes are dynamic. Procedures are defined every time you find a need. Every project is a chaotic learning experience. Working all through weeks and days is common. Your role definition is not based on the business title you carry. Everyone is busy, happy and feel progressing further with every micro-yes got, for the craft your are building.

Once you find a working chord with the paying customers, you start working towards keeping them happy. You would like to provide a consistent experience to them while working with you and your product. You end up finding best processes, procedures, and people for the job. When you experience a chaotic situation with customer relationship, you start thinking of standardization, relationship management and will be embarking on building a system. You reinvent yourself and the company for the challenge at hand. Suddenly structured way-of-working becomes essential.

Once you scale with multiple paying customers and maybe portfolio of products, you will be pushed to change your processes, engagement models, and related methods. Tools, techniques, and methods of finding, serving and retaining customers changes. New business processes become essential. You reinvent again.

Reinvention is a necessary rule of working for playing at your best. Instead of being pushed to reinvent due to market or customer dynamics, you should do it proactively. You will have a great opportunity to become a leader in the market space, a trend-setter, a creator of a remarkable craft. Keep reinventing to remain relevant.

be a #dreamerdoer

Unlocking the hidden knowledge for high performance

Knowledge plays a significant role in high-performance. Companies bank on the knowledge of people who build it. Capturing and using the knowledge of people gained through routine work and association with customers is not an easy task. A lot of companies make it their business to build tools for knowledge management. Routine practices within the company is a reflection of the shared knowledge and value system – the culture of the company. Practices evolve through applied knowledge of people in the company at all levels.

When companies focus on current actions and outcomes heavily, they tend to achieve results as expected. At the same time, the company and its employees tend to develop selective attention. People tend to ignore adjacencies, other possibilities and upsetting disruptions in their business. The knowledge acquired through experiences that is not routinely used becomes hidden, locked. These nuggets have to be unlocked for higher performance and business sustainability.

Unlocking the hidden knowledge within the company should be a key priority for business leaders to remain on top-of-the-game, to remain relevant in the changing dynamics of the market. One of the ways to carry out is to involve a cross-section of people in solving critical business problems and identifying new possibilities with the current resources and capabilities of the organization. Encouraging open-innovation and democratizing innovation within the company helps in routinely unlocking the hidden knowledge.

At an individual level too, you develop selective attention. The significant amount of knowledge you gain through work gets locked. Unlock this hidden knowledge periodically by participating in work away from your comfort zone. Volunteer in other functional areas. Challenge yourself in discovering and proposing new ideas and ways-of-working. Make the best use of it.

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Speed is the lever of high-performance

We are in the era of now. Instant gratification is the mantra. Trends are previous generation items. Real-time insight into what’s happening is the requirement. Foresight into what we may expect is even better. Products, markets and customer behaviors are evolving faster than ever. Are you keeping up? Is your organizational clock ticking fast enough to be in synch?

Speed is the name of the game. If you are building a new product/ solution based on the trend analysis and market understanding, your release cycles should be in-line with market dynamics. The whole world seems moving faster than before. If you try to move faster than the market, you either be a leader or a loner. If you feel that everything is under control, you may not be moving fast enough.

In order to succeed in the game of speed, you should design your pursuit into a series of experiments – that have clear goals and shorter cycles. Time and money boxing is a good practice. Short, logical cycles provide quicker feedback too. Continuous feedback fed well, creates a sustainable system. Given the rate of competition in every field of work, a faster scaling helps capture the market early and for a good amount of time.

Even in established markets, newer product/solutions, require speed as a key lever to penetrate and build. Speed in every aspect – design, development, testing, deployment decides how fast your product/solution is accelerated to profitable growth. Find and instill innovative solutions to the question – how quick can we ship? Challenge shipping a great product in the quickest time possible. Those who deliver faster have an opportunity to correct faster or quit faster if the idea is not catching-up momentum. Speed is the great lever for ensuring high-performance at work.

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Focus on benefits than features

When you focus on building features after features, you tend to enter the trap of happy-engineering. The features of the offering are important for the customer to understand the product/solution. They are the description of tangible capabilities of the product /solution. Engineers and product managers are the most familiar with its features, not the customers. Many features never get exercised in real use. Some customers study the features for the sake of comparison of similar products/solutions in the market. Customers are more interested in what the product/solution does. To clarify what the product/solution does, the benefits need to be explained.

The benefits of the product/ solution are intangible aspects. Benefits are experiences that the customer values as a result of utilizing the product/ service. A benefit portrays what the customer gets. Clearer benefit converts the interest of customer into an act of purchase. Unless customer understands and appreciates the value of the product in how it matters to him, the sale is not complete.

While building a product, service or business, focus on benefits from the customer point of view than just a long list of features. Validate these benefits and prioritize based on the merit to build, offer and service. This helps in making your product/ service relevant to the market and provides an opportunity to be a significant player.

be a #dreamerdoer.

How to make use of the power of assumptions

Assumptions form the basis of several actions. Assumptions provide drive to move ahead or make you stand-still. They are powerful. Entrepreneurs assume that there’ll be a market, potential buyers, for their solution whenever they build and take it to them. They believe it is possible to change the world and they know how to do it. They are making several assumptions. Likewise, those who believe it is impossible to change the world. The difference is what they have assumed and how well it is helping them to drive one or the other way.

Assumptions are important for any journey. We continuously assume several things and take somethings for granted. Most of the assumptions are not documented and tracked diligently. That delimits the power of assumptions. To make the best use of the power of assumptions, try the following:

  • document all assumptions and the basis of such assumptions.
  • identify what actions you take if they are not true.
  • classify all assumptions into Arbitrary, Basic and Critical.
  • identify actions required to verify each of the assumptions
  • verify and validate your assumptions quickly, depending on the impact they may create, if found not-true.
  • schedule first 2% of the project day towards checking the validity of those assumptions
  • record and revise assumptions every project day, as and when you realize or someone in the team brings-up
  • explicitly ask people what assumptions they are making when they are committing something to the project – this helps in bringing the common understanding amongst the team members and also helps validation through peer-learning.

Assumptions have the power to steer your work, initiative or business idea towards an accelerated path of success. Tracking them diligently helps you stay ahead of surprises. Make the best use of the power of assumptions to stay on top-of-your-game.

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Why problems don’t turn out as opportunities

In our everyday life, we don’t view problems as opportunities. We aren’t taught to embrace problems. We’re taught that problems are to be avoided. Most people talk about and complain about problems. This is the natural behavior. This makes it difficult for pursuing innovation programs at large.

In the business context, we believe that problems are opportunities. Opportunities to build a venture, hopefully, a profitable one. Problems become the source of innovation expeditions. Problems worth solving are categorized based on the opportunity they present economically. Possible solutions that have scalability in the market are chosen for sponsorship and pursuit. By the time the solution is built, tested and deployed, the relevance of the problem might not exist. That’s the risk every innovation project built around a problem has to manage.

When you are trying to discover opportunities through problem lens, look for a few key aspects – Size, Seasonality, and Solutions in use.

Size and seasonality can be established with questions: Is it a small problem that a lot of people face every day? Is it a big problem that a lot of people are facing for a long period of time? Is it a big problem that only a few people face, once in a while? Is it a small problem only a few people face sometimes? For all answers, find how people are coping with the problem? What solutions are in use? How effective are current solutions – in terms of cost, quality and time attributes?

Finally, find how technology can solve the problem more effectively and efficiently. This will help you find a problem worth solving. If you are addressing critical problems, then time is the core factor you should consider in finding and implementing the solution. Else, problems don’t turn out as opportunities.

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How to be compelling at work

Competence acquired through education and experience is a critical attribute required at work. Though competence provides the lever, Strength gets things done. People who project strength, command attention from those around them. Grudgingly or gladly, people respect those who project strength. It is not easy to miss noticing them in public.

Leadership and strength are inseparable. Strong people are accepted as good leaders. Strength is essential for effective leadership. Strength is made of two key elements – competence to act and resourcefulness to get things done.

At work, you may be given the ability to command people to do things or hold them accountable if they refuse. This is a primary source of strength in this setting. It is often bestowed on people who have proven themselves competent in several occasions and especially during tough assignments. But if you use only the power of position to influence, you might be heard but not followed through. People find ways to convince you or avoid coming to you completely.

Resourcefulness, shrewdness to get things done is the most critical ability you should focus on adding to the competence. This makes you stronger. What makes you resourceful at work is your social skills. Social Skills are not all about being charming. It is being assertive, keeping the focus on getting things done. How you articulate, your words, your voice, your body language and the diligence in making the team walk the talk, builds your social skills.

If you couple the power of position with respectful social skills, you become compelling at work. Most-sought-after-leader. Build social skills on top of your competence. You gain the strength people respect and help you build a remarkable craft.

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Real innovation happens when people do it for fun

There is a growing urgency to innovation these days. When it is triggered by necessity to differentiate the offering, to find and fill unoccupied spaces in the market and to keep up with competition, the stress levels are higher. Companies force themselves to innovate faster and faster.

Fundamental discoveries and innovations happened due to the exploration of individuals who were either frustrated with status-quo or just for fun. Take cases of origin of WWW and Linux operating system.  Most of the real innovations didn’t start with the profit motive.

A bunch of enthusiastic people smart enough to make technology do what they intended, started with interesting problems. They exercised technology to its fullest extent because exploring new ideas was fun.

With innovation playing a larger role in business success, companies are striving to find ways to get more effective innovation per dollar spent. This puts lot more pressure on leaders and the system. Leaders starting out in the innovation drive, focus most of their energy, time and money on creativity. Major gaps show-up is the capacity of the system to implement ideas rapidly and cost-effectively. Implementation requires intrapreneurs to transform the concepts into reality. Leaders have to create working intrapreneurs – those who enjoy pursuing ideas and convert them to reality.

If you are an intrapreneur, don’t follow money while building the craft. Follow the excitement. Let the craft build its own freewheel. Let the system take care of finding ways to monetizing the innovation. Decouple money from the process of innovation. As a leader, let people invent the future because it’s fun. Real innovation happens when people pursue it for the fun of it.

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Power of small ideas as catalyst for a big transformation

Transformation is a pursuit of many corporations. The reason may be the business necessity, change in business environment, technology disruption or new and innovative players. Changing permanently from the current state to an irreversible and unknown state is not easy. Many seek external hand-holding. A few will leave it to time. Some focus on customer push. Irrespective of the method, they tend to postpone or dodge. But winners in the market embrace change routinely. More head-on than the rest. How do they do it?

Transformation can be achieved through a series of irreversible changes progressively feeding to the next step to keep the momentum. While you are searching for a big winning idea, you may be missing valuable small nuggets that might help you build a remarkable craft. Winners create a catchment for ideas. They catch all ideas without measuring the impact of the same or classification into big or small when they are found.

Routinely reviewing ideas and harvesting based on the available bandwidth but in-line with the overall progress path helps them make use of the power of every idea, however small it is. Since every idea to improve performance, change experience and create value requires different competencies, winners create a pool of enthusiasts to pick-up what they can deliver and allow them to create small wins. Allowing input, selection, and execution responsibilities with many people make the journey of change democratic.

Democratizing innovation helps improve engagement, effectiveness due to closer feedback cycles and builds a performing company. Changing for good becomes a culture. Culture, the shared value of the corporation makes it easy to embark big transformation, mostly ahead of time.

Build the culture by participating and allowing participation. Small wins build the foundation for a big transformation. Make use of democratisation of innovation to stay ahead of the competition and enjoy market defining leadership.

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