Early nineties were exciting! Internet has arrived in India thanks to VSNL. Pentium PCs were becoming popular. I had just finished a 2 years advanced programming course when I came to know about a company which was hiring freshers. I made unusual choices by following my intuition starting from my first job in early nineties. I avoided large templatised environments which allowed me to have unique depth and breadth in my career which later helped me in solving complex multi-disciplinary business problems.
I was fortunate to start my career with a great company which had culture similar to the Netflix culture in mid-nineties. One of the most creative periods of my career was spent at this company under the guidance of my early mentors. I had worked with several companies directly or indirectly in 2 decades of my career and was fortunate to find mentors, peers and team members across the globe who brought out the best in me in several areas.
- Simplify: Complexity kills profits! Businesses needs to be agile to survive in an increasingly complex and unpredictable business environment which has resulted due to rapid technology changes and globalization. Unfortunately, businesses waste millions of dollars by building bureaucratic systems and cumbersome business processes requiring multiple hand-offs/approvals due to lack of trust. For example, most of the HR and in-house IT teams have not changed with the changing times and still force archaic processes and guidelines on employees. One organization had elaborate leave policy wasting everyone’s time in enforcing it. A progressive organization opted to go for a single sentence honor code in place of the leave policy dramatically enhancing the trust in employees. Simplification is not easy as it requires challenging the status-quo and processes which have been in use for several years.
- Automate: Is it possible to get the work of 150 people done by 30-50 people? Answer is yes. It is sad to see some of best technology companies getting most of the work (including repetitive work) done manually. I have seen this across the IT services and BPO industry. The developers in most of the technology companies still do not use the tools which will make their life easier and reduce the number of bugs. Smart solutions balance the cognitive power of human brain and computing power of machines. For example, recently an European startup wanted to get data scrapping done from the sources identified by them and had received a quotation for manually doing the work. Instead of giving them a quotation, we recommended a $350 tool and the startup was able to do the work on-shore.
- Hedgehog model: As per a Greek parable: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Trying out several different strategies, the fox sneaks, pounces, races, and plays dead to catch the hedgehog. However, the fox has to walk away defeated every-time. The fox never learns that the hedgehog knows how to do one thing perfectly: defend itself. “The Hedgehog and the Fox” is Isaiah Berlin’s masterly essay on Tolstoy, in which he underlines a fundamental distinction between those people (foxes) who are fascinated by the infinite variety of things and those (hedgehogs) who relate everything to an unitary vision. In his essay, Berlin argued that foxes are sleek and shrewd animals that pursue many goals and interests at the same time. Because of this wide variety of interests and strategies, their thinking is scattered and unfocused, and they are limited in what they can achieve in the long run. Hedgehogs, however, are slow and steady, and people often overlook them because they’re quiet and unassuming. But, unlike the fox, they are able to simplify the world and focus on one overarching vision. It’s this principle that guides everything they do, and helps them succeed against all odds.
- Execution: Derek Sivers says: “The most brilliant idea, with no execution, is worth $20. The most brilliant idea takes great execution to be worth $20,000,000. That’s why I don’t want to hear people’s ideas. I’m not interested until I see their execution.” Flawless execution requires direction, perseverance, agility and a committed team. I am always meeting passionate people with the right attitude for my team. Skills are not so important as they can be easily acquired.
- Excellence: There is subtle difference between perfection and excellence. I pursue excellence! Excellence requires setting up of high standards & goals and then determined execution of a plan to achieve these goals. I enjoy getting into details after looking at the big picture.