Thursday, December 26, 2013

Inventive Idea always rocks

During last work week I received an internal mail from one of our employees saying that they have organized Cricket Premiere League Tournament of the employees. They already finalized some 8 or 9 different teams formed by employees of different departments. It was a great initiative and I was waiting to see some more action on it. Next day one of the employee came to me and requested to help him hire the Cricket ground for next 2 weekends, if I have any such contacts. Normally this is not the problem during week days however it is difficult to find it for weekends especially during winter. 

Next to next day I received one more mail saying that cricket ground has been finalized along with full details about the venue, organizing group, name of the teams and players, match rounds, umpires decided for each match, scoreboard and point table.

Everything was so well organized that I not only tap the back of the organizers but also wrote to the MD for getting this tournament sponsored by the company. 

I also decided to be on the Cricket ground on the 1st day of the tournament to make the boys feel good.

On last Saturday 9.30 AM, I reached the ground where 2nd match of the tournament was about to start and almost everyone welcome me and showed their gratitude. With all good spirit, the match started with running around, shouting, noise making and everyone was fully enjoying. I observed that the spirit was at pick however majority of the players were exhausted and drained while running for fielding, bowling or between the wickets.

Spirit of the sport does not permit you to highlight such things so I did not criticize or mention this to anyone. Something creative was happening by the employees and one should not try to point out negatives out of it however “physical fitness” was clearly identified as an inadequacy in the situation.

I decided to approach this from different perspective which led me to a new business Idea. I shared my thoughts with few colleagues and their response was even more positive. The business Ideas was to start a Gym in the basement of the office building and offer flexible daily monthly or quarterly services to the gym users. Further calculations proved that required customers one can easily get only from the company employees.

You need to deal with the crazy new ideas; question is “how?” After you capture some creative idea, you have the challenge of how to frame it, process it, act on it and arrive to decision that can be implemented. 

Lesson learnt for me was that “Idea applied to the situation will magnify the hidden business opportunities”. At the same time it is mandatory to further scan it and see whether it can support financial prosperity and create values?

Innovative abilities are acquired by experience, travel, cultures, situations, emotions, reactions and responses of the people. Your personal style of dealing with the people and effective communication will always help you win confidence of them in you.

Bhartesh Sagar
December 26, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Moving forward on the right track?

Moving forward on the right track?
NOTE: Purpose of this article is to further highlight the concepts published in an article on October 23, 2013 by DR. Danielle Dowling

You’re definitely on the right road as per your desired road map if;
      Your current efforts in day to day task do not make you uncomfortable.
      Do not attempt things that express regrets at a later stage
      Your attempts should not initiate major compromises on large projects.
      While driving your business policies according to your wisdom of value should not reflect back negatively by your work environment.
     You should be very confident in selecting route that leads to growth path for your business.

If you get following results, conclude and consider that you are on the wrong path:
       The condition at hand is becoming very high cost to the company (financially).
       You start feeling exhausted with the unproductive work load.
       You start becoming directionless and but cannot share your feeling
       You feel fundamentally confused about where your business is going.
       You start losing your self-confidence to a particular situation.

Some guidance to get you back on the right track:

Don't be so hard on yourself. 
Stop with the self-attack! It’s not productive. Don’t get down on yourself because you ended up on the wrong track—it happens to everyone.

Determine the first step. And then take it. 
Change starts with one step. For example: If you were trying to lose weight, a small first step would be to select whole grain bread instead of white bread. Cutting down on fats or sweets is also a good first step. Don’t worry and give too much of your time to correction areas. Go on short vacation with family. Priority should be for balancing your work–personal life.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. 
Small, doable goals will get you there! Break down your BIG goals into a series of little, totally achievable steps. Step one: go for a 20 minute walk today. Step two: go for a 20 minute walk and switch to skim milk in your coffee.

Relax more. 
It may seem counterproductive to relax, but if this is what you need, then go ahead and relax for a day or so. Contemplate how you’ve been living your life, your delayed goals, and what things you want to change. Find a serene spot and write down your thoughts and desires in notebook. Begin by writing down what you need to get, want to give, and what your deal breakers are in regards to that area of your life. Make this day a mini retreat!

Have a mantra or meditation that helps to keep you on focus. 
If you tend to be discouraged easily by some things, create a simple mantra that will help you stay on target, one that will help you shift into a more loving and empowered perspective.

Accomplish a goal every week, every month and every year. 
Enjoy the snowball effect of gaining confidence as you accomplish more and more goals! When you set small, doable goals for yourself, you’ll be that much more likely to take on big ones.

Bhartesh Sagar
December 20, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mentoring V/S Micro Managing

Perceptive theory is also described as “"cognitive science" (e.g. any kind of mental operation or structure that can be studied in precise terms). This also applies to those who are responsible for managing large teams – people for their company. Studying new business domain and expected out come in precise manner before abruptly driving some strategies is mandatory requirement.

Perceptive theories are also known as concepts of personality that emphasize perceptive processes such as thinking and judging. This includes setting up of the expectations at a realistic – right level. Over optimism and depression, both are mind set issues however in every company; you will come across some amateur mid or senior level managers driving their teams with overly optimistic and unrealistic policies and spoil the work environment for everyone.

One of the most common mistakes some leaders make while managing people is that they go for micro managing people working under them. They use their designation and authority and spoil the whole working environment. They think that by creating an atmosphere of fear will push people and they will deliver good results however most of the time it end up damaging moral of the people.

Some people are like "born scientists" Their thought process is based on limited experience and they see the world through a particular lens, based on some uniquely structured systems of controls that they have used in past with some companies. They sometimes integrate systems based on their own personal mind frame which may not be suitable in dynamic business world where G.T.M. is different for the every business domain. They always anticipate future issues more than the future growth and keep the reasoning ready for under performance. By the time they realize their policies are misleading for the existing business situation, it is too late since “management mess” situation is already created by that time.

Factors like “micro managing” always affect performing employees much more than the non-performers. It does heavy damage to their goal-setting and self-controlling beliefs which leads to losing interest in their core activities. Even for new employees with limited domain knowledge-experience, micro managing creates high insecurity and fear which also prevent them to open up and use their creativity. In humanistic psychology, focus is mainly on subjective experiences of people as against forced, definitive factors that determine their behavior.

I have come across many such cases where the leader will micromanage people working below him, create atmosphere of insecurity, spoil the company environment and when it proves to be wrong in terms of growth achievement, they leave their own job after 2 to 3 quarters. This situation will damage the organization much more in terms of losing confidence of the performer / loyal employees into the organization.

Mentoring is always more effective option compared to micro managing however mentoring should always be aimed toward encouraging individuals to design ambitious goals and work toward them along with the recognition that there are external factors that may impact their achievements.

Effective mentor must have the ability to perform, demonstrate and set positive examples by themselves if they wish to earn respect of their team.

Bhartesh Sagar
December 18, 2013

Monday, July 22, 2013

Shaping Perception; Scalling up Innovation

Finding new market / business opportunities through organized innovation

Companies around the globe today are struggling to survive or going through a major turnaround. They are still struggling to figure out which way is right to take their business up, which new markets, products, services they can possibly address. Companies wish to find some or the other way, not just to survive but flourish, however designing future road map seems covered with lots of uncertainties.  Where to turn for growth is the question mark for the many business owners.

C. level executives of the companies are asking about ways to improve the health and effectiveness of their innovation programs.  This is a direct consequence of global market trends.  These companies understand that growth will not come from doing more of the same business activities but is possible only by changing it through innovation.

One common question come from the most is; “How to efficiently find new markets for the existing products / services?”  There are a few basic approaches to driving revenue growth:

®    Finding new markets for existing products / services
®    Extending the client (revenue) life of services in their current markets
®    Finding new applications for technologies or methods
®    Entering adjacent markets

Innovation is the tonic to drive the health and success of the company.  Let me address the 1st and the most important starting point “Finding new markets for existing products / services”.

Fragment markets:  The total of buyers in the segments for which we have a whole product.

Defining each of these markets is important in guiding our company’s operations and strategy, and for communicating to interested parties, including investors, analysts and the media. How we determine these market definitions is very complex.

Total market (the potential market)
You need to estimate your total market size since it helps both in narrowing down the “other market” definitions, and also in permitting perspective on our addressable market.  Defining the total market size is the easiest of exercises.  If you can estimate what percentage of the population wants our products / services at the price you intend to charge, and if your services are new and lacks competition, then the calculation is quite easy:

(Target buyers population * percent buyers) * Price. It sounds easy but it is not as simple as that.

Some analyst firms like Gartner might already have estimated the annual spend for our services category, and can provide top-line numbers.  However, if a market is mature enough that analyst groups have an accurate reading on total annual spend, chances are it is not a market you want to enter!  Mature markets will always have some sharks and whales that eat start-up small fishes.

Addressable market
Addressable markets are those that you can address, meaning the ones that you have an actual chance of selling our products or services.  This includes all buyers for whom you have a reasonably packaged products or services solution, attached with certain constraints. If your services can adequately serve multiple segments, then your addressable market might be as large as the sum of the segments.  But it rarely happens. 

Convincing market
You cannot start selling your products / services to our addressable market; you actually need to look at the smaller realistic market. You can even call it “Convincing market“. These are the markets you can realistically recruit considering your internal constraints. 

Having an addressable market of a million buyers is meaningless if you have a budget that can reach 1k. Calculating your realistic market is easier than your addressable market because the number of variables is smaller and the numbers are very clearly defined.  If you have been selling our services for long time, you also know our win/loss ratios.

If your calculations on your realistic market are sound, and if you can explain how invested money will scale your market outreach, then your company management will mostly believe your projections.  If you present the other way around, by saying you need money to sell to your addressable market, they will send you home since there is no proof of results.

Segment markets 
As you know segments are essential to marketing. You have to create a whole services portfolio to attract buyers, but creating new services for a whole new market is impossible.  Thus, a segment is a ‘market’, and a collection of closely related segments may be a larger scale market.

The Steps in Measuring
There are two approaches:

Decline:  Take each market and put restrictions and a lot of caps on it to divert marketing efforts towards smaller markets.  For example, start with the total market and add restrictions to discover new addressable markets, and then do the same to the addressable market to find the convincing market.  This is the least advised approach since it may trigger dissatisfaction for your sales and marketing personals

Build-up:  Start with your business plan, track record and current budgets and project your short- and mid-term realistic markets.  This is the right approach for start-ups. Smart companies do it from the bottom-up, supported by real numbers picked from reliable sources to build the definition.  Quality numbers can come from surveys, studies, analyst re-ports, sales records and other sources.

Bhartesh Sagar

+91 (0) 9924952583

Friday, April 12, 2013

Performance Optimization

Performance optimization sounds good in speaking however this is the most crucial exercise for every CEO. Performance optimization means you have to explore new corporate strategies that will optimize organization performance and achieve the planned growth. You cannot explore new corporate strategy unless you know what the core competencies of your company are. This concept of core competences was originally developed and introduced by Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad. Core competencies are nothing but the critical success factors that has been unique and valued the most by the clients/ users. They are the key components that drive performance optimization and new strategies are always built on such identified core competences that have helped the company reach to the competitive position in market place.

Why this is important? 

Sometimes exceptional performance and wins are results of unexpected market conditions. e. g. restrictions imposed by US Government on H1B Visa have forced some companies; shift their focus to other countries / markets and these markets were not much exposed by others and higher growth was achieved by getting high volume of new projects/business. Crosswise the companies, who have been depending more on US market / projects have gone down on their business growth plans.

Keeping aside the organic growth and irrespective of good or bad market conditions, some companies have always optimized their performance since they knew their core competencies, they knew what has been most valued by their US clients and have built their strategies based on it.

Visionary companies will always have structured process for core competency mapping so they can proactively identify future opportunities and start working on the “opportunity essentials”. Business is all about identifying what goes right for you and efficiently capitalizing on it. They are sources of competitive advantage and help you visualize future business opportunities.

What is Core Competency?

Best way to describe is; Core competencies are set of skills that enable your organization to provide a particular benefit to customers. This is not specific to products or services. They should be contributing to the development of a range of products and services which their buyers / users have endorsed as unique. For example iPhone - customer benefit is most user friendly touch screen and core competence is super excellent hand phone.

Core competencies of your company:

Some competencies are needed by every single company in order to operate and carry out their business. They normally outline the “standard level of competency” necessary to sustain business operations. They cannot be called “Core Competencies” since they are not unique or exceptional and most companies in the same domain might be following the same practice.

Well integrated capabilities and experience of individual skills that has set your company apart from the competitor are identified as “core competencies”. They are the key business drivers that have benefited the company in terms of optimizing performance in market place. This is something that will differ from company to company depending upon their core business areas. Some examples:

  • They should be making a significant contribution to customer perceived value.
  • They are the significant contributor to the financial health of the company.
  • They are exceptional or their performance has been proved significantly superior to its competitor product or service.
  • They are unique and capable of being applied to new products and services.

It is not necessary that each and every organizations possess core competencies. Very small companies that provide standard services that are already in high demand may not need core competencies and small piece of pie from the market demand will be more than sufficient for their success.

How to identify core business competencies?

It is always crucial to identify and understand core business competencies of the company.
  • Question is how to identify such competences?
  • To what time such identified competencies will remain effective?
  • What will be the expected life cycle for each competency?

This of course is not a one time job and not a straight forward job in today’s dynamic market conditions. Senior management of the company needs to define the process of how to identify competences that are valued by their clients. Not just that but they needs to be shared especially with the executives and employees who usually interact with the clients.

Reason is that your clients will not tell this to you when you ask for their feedback. Again asking for their feedback, or sending feedback form followed with request reminders, is something like “not respecting their time”. ‘Good service’ or ‘reliable delivery” kind of feedback cannot be considered as core competencies or critical success factors since they are too generic and no point in asking for such feedback from your client.

Critical success factors are always surrounded with the complex set of activities performed while dealing with the client. Identifying and understanding organization capabilities and the associated activities performed while interacting with the client are likely to portray competences. “Activity mapping” is the first step of the process.

Company will have to first develop log of the organizational competencies. We can always categorize competencies into 3 areas. # Core Functional/Technical competencies # Core Non-Technical competencies and # Core management/leadership competencies. Next step will be conducting core competency tests to determine the competencies that are core.

Activity Mapping

First step before undertaking the analysis, prepare an activity map that can display how different activities of the company are interlinked with each other.

  • List all activities performed by all actors (activity owners) involved in the process
  • Most companies will have CRM, ERP or some project management tools already in existence that can be used for activity mapping
  • Start identifying the benefit from each competency. Some Examples:
              *      Client benefit in procuring offshore/on-site services for software development from your company.

              *      User benefit while using your services or products

              *      The benefit from knowledge and experience in controlling costs is a reduction in opex expenses.

Identify competencies that meet all of the below mentioned criteria:

  • They should be making a significant contribution to customer perceived value
  • They are the significant contributor to the financial health of the company
  • They are exceptional or their performance has been proved significantly superior to its competitor product or service.
  • They are unique and capable of being applied to new products and services
They are your company’s core competencies. Once identified, you should institutionalize through processes and procedures this activity of mapping core competencies with pre-determined intervals.