Monday, July 26, 2010

3 Tips, 3 Ways and 4 Things For Effective Leadership

From my gleanings from Harvard Biz.. I am re-posting some good tit-bits on 3 tips for strengthening big picture skills, 3 ways to handle disruption and 4 things to empower your employees with:

The critical skills of seeing the big picture is really a right brain activity but also draws from the left in detecting patterns, relating narratives and linking the concepts that relate to your program or organization's mission and vision. The valuable 3 tips are:
  1. Identify Parallels: When faced with a new situation or project, ask yourself if it reminds you of anything. Are there elements that are similar to or relate to other situations in which you've been?
  2.  Expand your thinking. Look for non-obvious factors that may affect the situation. Seek out underlying causes or events.
  3. Articulate analogies.To communicate what you are seeing, use metaphors and analogies to which others can easily relate.
On the third point I want to emphasize is talk in narratives, tell stories, we relate with good stories and especially stories that inspire, teach a lesson in character and arise them from ashes.

Coping with the unexpected isn't just a good leadership skill, it's critical. Expect change and be flexible for change. Create a plan where you are not reacting to change but being proactive to change. Know with change comes disruptions and to minimize the effects of disruptions you response need to have three ways:
  1. Have a back-up plan: You may not always be able to rehearse Plan B, but you should have alternative approaches that can help get you out of a bind. In the absence of actual plans, mental flexibility can help you respond more quickly.
  2. Speed up communication: Information needs to move through your company quickly and efficiently. Find ways you can collect and disseminate data in short cycles.
  3. Instill values: Values help people know the right thing to do without being told or waiting for permission. They also bind a company together when surprises happen and therefore can help companies recover more quickly.
Harvard Biz quotes transformational leaders know and recognize that employees want much more than that. Here are the four things your people need to succeed with you and for you:
  1. Love.This may sound touchy-feely, but love simply means focused concern that is exclusively for that person's good. Show your employees you care about them and their futures.
  2. Growth.No one wants to be exactly where they are forever. Create a culture that allows your people to grow and expand.
  3. Contribution.To feel fulfilled, employees must know that they are contributing to the whole. Emphasize the ways that their work matters to the organization
  4. Meaning. We are meaning-seeking creatures. Share a vision that demonstrates that all of your employees are engaged in a larger purpose.
The caption for people who cannot read the fine print: "The leader always sets the trail for others to follow"

Forwarding thoughts @ssnautilus:

Sam Kurien

Monday, July 12, 2010

Who shouldn't be taken lightly in the Search Space?

Here are the top 5 search providers, as ranked by Comscore for March 2010. Just for fun I’ve added % growth since January 2009.


I have been discussing with friends how though Microsoft waits to gear up on several fronts (developing secretly, waiting and watching), its a fierce competitor once in the space it enters. Just look at the  right hand column a 58% per cent growth is mind boggling. Smart strategies include in making Bing official on Yahoo and making Bing the official search engine on Windows as well as iPhones (Cover (60% of the mobile space). For Google and Apple getting things ugly didn't help but has given Microsoft the opportunity to propel forth forward in its penetration strategies.  Google is trying hard to diversify into gaming, TV and the mobile space the question is ...Is it too late? Or will it be over-spending and long term low return on investment. Personally I think the idea is how good can you leverage and converge search in those areas and how will you motivate people to use you. 

Classifieds advertising has always been vying space and a $40 billion plus market, it after all burns down to people finding a good bargain and a good trade hence ...craigslist is a not surprise on the search space here; I wonder what would happen if they did search as their primary business? Another surprising fact of this contender is Craigslist surpasses, in the personal ad section. From a UI point of view craigslist is a anomaly for the feel-good designer but an example of a perfect functional site. A bare bone look and feel and the users still hunt for what they need. A 38 percent up ward growth from 2009 means something is being done right in spite of all the legal suits. 

Anyway my observations for the day!

Sam Kurien

Thursday, July 8, 2010

'Open Innovation' - Knowledge Brokering

I have always been fascinated with the concept of open innovation, a few years (well many years) back while I was in B-School I read Tom Peters famous pictoral book 'Circle of Innovation' and ever since been arguing (with myself mostly) if - Is it innovation that sustains you in marketplace or is it better processes that nurture that innovation?. I am slowly beginnning to understand that its actaully a  balance of both and more importantly right timing. I say right timing because innovation at the wrong time is thrown out of the marketplace because the market is nor ready to accept that innovation.  Innovation at the right time changes the landscape of the society and brings financial success and sustainability to the company .  So what is open innovation? Since it has begun transforming global companies coming out with new products and been influential in bringing variety of strategic-operational solutions to organizational problems.

  Open innovation is creating a culture of participative management thinking and is rooted in the practice of knowledge brokering which is systemic approach to seek ideas externally from people from cross contextually from various disciplines and finding how combining them to your industry result into a innovation in the marketplace.

The idea here is the tap into people who are ready to share their experiences and most of them are ready to share that experience for free and this is a place where we generate ideas from the marketplace and leverage it back to the marketplace. It is more than just doing a survey , it is an ongoing active participation, knowledge brokering, knowledge storehousing, and then knowledge benchmarking. The on-going activity of generating experiences and ideas from the marketplace can go back in revising the benchmarks and knowledge sharing.

A closer look at the way forward-looking organizations use knowledge brokering to improve their business processes offers practical lessons for companies of all stripes and suggests how senior managers must adapt to thrive in a digital era characterized by increased collaboration.

Knowledge brokering offers companies an analogous capability. I suspect this idea must have come or pioneered by product designers in companies such as the design consultancy IDEO. In practice knowledge brokering is about forming project teams that initiate conversations with knowledge brokers—people willing to discuss their experiences to serve the teams’ needs—and then combine the external ideas with internal ones to improve these companies’ business processes. Sometimes the art of gathering or brokering this information can be tricky but is not rocket science by any means; a genuine interest to be a change agentp; a diplomatic front to seek good and the idea to give credit where credit is due will automatically enable you to gather these ideas.

Consultancy firm Mckinsey confirmed and reported in its study over the past four years,  the use of knowledge brokering among more than 50 teams they deployed at ten multinational companies in industries such as banking, consumer goods, high-tech products, shipping, engineering, retailing, and utilities. Each team used this approach to devise an innovative solution to a project assigned by senior management in areas including strategic planning, supply chains, sales and marketing, corporate social responsibility, and HR. When surveyed afterward, team members unanimously agreed that knowledge brokering increased the effectiveness of their projects—and two-thirds said it did so “greatly.” On average, it helped the teams design new processes twice as quickly as they would have expected to do by using conventional techniques.

Knowledge brokering is not copying but sharing ideas to innovate and bring that innovation when the market demands it or bringing it when the market is ready for it.

My thoughts for the day!

Sam Kurien

Time Buckets