Category Archives: Consulting
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” BY Steve Jobs
“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” BY Milan Kundera
“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” BY William Pollard
“Art begins in imitation and ends in innovation.” BY Mason Cooley
“I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts.” BY Bill Gates
“Energy innovation is not a nationalistic game.” BY Bill Gates
“The five essential entrepreneurial skills for success are concentration, discrimination, organization, innovation and communication.” BY Michael Faraday
“The heart and soul of the company is creativity and innovation.” BY Robert Iger
“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” BY Albert Einstein
“Innovation is the ability to convert ideas into invoices.” BY L. Duncan
“Innovation is serendipity, so you don’t know what people will make.” BY Tim Berners Lee
Looking back at my life for the past few years, the one thing that has made a REAL DIFFERENCE is CLARITY on my PRIORITIES.
I don’t think I was so clear about my priorities till a series of events (which included loss of a loved one, becoming a mother and a couple of other “life-changing and thought-provoking” events) compelled me to introspect and reflect on my own life.
As I go down memory lane and look at my own life; and also see people around me, I note the following:
(1) A vast majority of individuals DO NOT have clarity on their priorities in life – Be it as a part of their personal life or professional life. So if you ask yourself or someone to list the Top 3 Priorities for the day / week / month / life / home / work, majority will struggle to respond. And those that do will not be so sure about their answer.
(2) Those individuals who do have clarity on their priorities in life don’t translate these priorities into everyday action. For e.g: In my priority list, health and fitness was a TOP Priority. However, if I looked at my everyday routine, I had not really factored any time for any physical exercise. So, there was a fundamental gap between Thought and Action.
(3) A vast majority of individuals have too many items on their list marked as TOP Priority. And hence over a period of time (say monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc.) – They are not able to show or see or demonstrate any visible / tangible difference in progress. And hence wonder what went wrong and where?
The other important aspects about PERSONAL PRIORITIES are:
- Your priorities are personal to you – No one can decide them but YOU!
- Your priorities WILL change as you journey through life – Be aware of these changing priorities and model your life accordingly!
How can CLARITY on your PRIORITIES help YOU?
Having clarity on your priorities can help you in umpteen numbers of ways. From my personal experience, the most important one’s are:
(1) Focus: If you are clear on your priorities, it enables you to focus better on what you’re doing. Simply because you know what’s TOP on your priority list and what’s not can be truly empowering; and can aid you to focus on the task at hand.
(2) Decision Making: Decision Making becomes a lot simple and easy if you have clarity on your priorities. You know whom to say Yes / No to and Why?, You know what can / can’t wait and Why?, You know
(3) Letting-Go: Many times we hold on to things simply because that’s how it’s always been or because we don’t know any other way or because we don’t know what else to hold on to. But the minute you have crystal clear clarity on your priorities – You will recognize what you really need to hold on to, and letting-go becomes a lot easier – in the emotional and intellectual sense.
(4) Expectation Management: Many of us live our lives living up-to “expectations” of others. Nothing wrong with that, but maybe it is also good to live of our lives up to our own “expectations”. And your expectations of yourself become a lot clearer if they are driven by your priorities of life!
(5) Saying NO: NO are two simple letters, but form an extremely powerful word. NO can make our life so simple if we just use them more often. And yet the fact is that most of us complicate our lives way too much simply because we find it so hard to say NO. And why are we conservative in the usage of NO? – Because we are not used to saying it or we worry too much about the implications of saying NO.
But when you have clarity on your priorities, it is a lot easier to say NO. Simply because you know that what’s being asked of you does not figure in your priority list, so it’s better to refuse! This one benefit is probably the most liberating!
The fact is all the above are critical for anyone playing a LEADERSHIP ROLE. And hence being clear on your PRIORITIES is of paramount importance for any LEADER
Call for ACTION Now
(1) Write down (on pen & paper preferably) your TOP 3 priorities for your Personal Life
(2) Write down (on pen & paper preferably) your TOP 3 Priorities for your Professional Life (Ignore if you don’t have an active professional life)
(3) For each of these priorities, ask yourself
- “Are these PRIORITIES taking you closer to your GOALS”
- “Are you taking any specific action on a regular basis (daily, weekly, etc.) to address these priorities?
(4) If yes, Great! You are on the right path. Best Wishes and Good Luck to you
(5) If no, then Pause & Reflect. And make the required course corrections. It is NEVER too LATE!
As I end, I’d like to leave you with a few quotes on prioritization from the wise.
“Action expresses priorities.” BY Mahatma Gandhi
“Good things happen when you get your priorities straight.” BY Scott Caan
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” BY Stephen Covey
Yesterday (14 May 2013), I had the opportunity to conduct a session on “Corporate Innovation” to a diverse audience (3 to 10+ years experience). It was an interesting, and interactive session. The one strong view which was echoed from the participants was that there is VERY LITTLE INNOVATION happening at the ground level within most organizations!
Sharing below the key messages from my session
Overview to Corporate Innovation
- Innovation has evolved from “Nice to Do” To “Good to Do” to “Must Do”. Innovate to survive
- There is no “universal / standard definition” of Innovation
- Innovation within an organization can happen at any time, at any place and from anyone. Innovation can occur at any level within an organization – from entry level to executive management
- Innovation can be of technology, process, business, delivery methodology, product or user experience
- What the wise have to say about Innovation. To read a set of interesting Innovation Quotes, click here
- Focus of Corporate Innovation is how to “Simplify” / “Solve problems” / “Make things easier and better” / “Improve efficiencies” for internal (employees) and external (customers , partners, suppliers, vendors) stakeholders. Of course, corporate innovation initiatives focus on “Reducing costs” / “Improving Revenues”
* Innovation Life Cycle : Every innovation typically follows a life cycle as depicted below
* Importance of Corporate Innovation
- Getting employees to “Think”, “Learn”, “Reflect”, “Experience”, “Comprehend” and “Apply” : Build a culture of innovation
- Key Differentiator ; Competitive Advantage in the market
- Additional “Revenue Potential” ; Non-Linearity
- Better Customer Engagement
- Market Positioning & Thought Leadership
* Lessons from my Corporate Innovation Journey
- There are three distinct phases in the Innovation Life Cycle and each requires a different mind set
- Your idea need not be unique; How you position your innovation makes all the difference
- The Business Plan is just a baseline plan
- When you start the GTM [Go-To-Market] activities can make all the difference
- The first customer is the most crucial in your journey to success
- Corporate Innovation should be a priority from the top
- Internal communication and collaboration is critical to succeed
Extracted from paper published in the IIMB Summer Magazine (2012)
Innovation is the creation of the new or the re-arranging of the old in a new way – Michael Vance.
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower – Steve Jobs.
Innovation is the central issue in economic prosperity – Michael Porter.
Innovation is not the product of logical thought, although the result is tied to logical structure – Albert Einstein.
Innovation by definition will not be accepted at first. It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations, monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by an organization. This requires “courageous patience” – Warren Bennis.
Innovation is the process of turning ideas into manufacturable and marketable form – Watts Humprey.
Just as energy is the basis of life itself, and ideas the source of innovation, so is innovation the vital spark of all human change, improvement and progress – Ted Levitt.
Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it – Steve Jobs.
“The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.”— Dr. Linus Pauling
It’s that time of the year when many students have to make important choices with respect to their future education – Especially the decision of the Graduation college (after completion of 12th standard).
A lucky few students (by virtue of their academic performance / personal wealth & affluence/ personal networks) manage to secure an admission in a college of their choice, and with a course (subject) of their choice. But this usually translates into very small percentage of the overall student base.
What about the vast majority of the students?
The dilemma comes down to a choice which they need to make
The Choice between the COURSE and COLLEGE..
And that’s a choice
Which can potentially change their life
Which can potentially change their earning potential
Which can potentially change their quality of life
Which can potentially change their way of thinking
Which can potentially change their views of the world..
Which can potentially change their HAPPINESS QUOTIENT in LIFE..
It’s a TOUGH CHOICE to make..
For students and for their parents..
Here’s my VIEW:
Having been through all these phases myself (right until post-graduation) & also having seen friends / colleagues / family / people around me go through the journey of life and how their lives eventually turn out – My personal and honest answer is “IT DEPENDS on the STUDENT“
Let me explain my point further..
At these phases of life, I have broadly seen students fall into 2 categories:
(1) Students who are deeply passionate about a subject / cause and know for sure what they want to study and eventually become. For e.g.: A friend of mine was very clear that she wanted to study Genetics; and be a researcher in this area when she was in 12th Standard. At that time though most of us knew vaguely what genetics was, her personal interest and passion on the subject was unparalleled. She would read extensively about the subject, subscribe to magazines / periodicals, etc etc & any conversation with her which lasted beyond 5 minutes would be steered to Genetics. Eventually, she went on to do her PhD in Genetics, and has dome some amazing research work in this area.
Whatever be the area of interest – Be it engineering, medicine, genetics, finance, yoga, fitness, fashion design, jewellery design, acting, music, cooking, etc. etc. etc. – If you are deeply passionate about it and are sure about it, that’s a GREAT PLACE and STATE to be in life.
So as a student / individual, if you are deeply passionate about a subject / cause, then my recommendation is one should CHOOSE the COURSE over the COLLEGE.
(2) Now coming to majority of the other students (Applies even to most of us even in adult life) – They really don’t know what they want to study or eventually become. Some of them have favorite subjects at school, but their not sure if that’s what they want to pursue further (For e.g.: It’s not necessary that if you like Maths, you want to become a Mathematician, or Accountant, or a Business Finance professional). For many, they don’t even have any favorite subjects – They just study everything because its part of their school curriculum.
For such students, my recommendation is one should CHOOSE the COLLEGE over the COURSE. Of course, you should try to look for a course in which you have some level of interest.
Simply because if you join a better rated college, you will have the following advantages:
One, the quality of teaching staff would probably be (And again, there may be exceptions here.) better; and a good teacher can sometimes do a phenomenal job in introducing you to new subjects / new worlds, make you curious about learning, open your to mind to new possibilities and help you discover subjects / passions which were waiting to be unearthed. Also recommendations from reputed / well-known teachers of good institutes adds up in your resume – for job applications / future studies.
Two, the overall quality of student base would probably be better. Interacting and building strong friendships and relationships with the right people at this phase of your life can make all the difference in how you think, the kind of activities you associate with, the experiences and exposure you get as a student and the lessons of life you learn as a student.
Three, and most importantly a better rated college would probably also expose you to options and possibilities after you complete a course by virtue of their associations and collaborations with other regional / global organizations, and these can give you a head-start in your career.
Fourthly and most importantly, the job / career prospects are better if you’ve studied in a good college. Organizations looking at recruitment usually tie-up with colleges which are ranked better. Of course, all organizations have their own criteria for identification of colleges that they will recruit students from, but as a general guideline the better ranked colleges are preferred.
Fifthly, the college alumni plays a very important role in the branding of the college in the corporate context, and the contributions they make to grow and improve the institute. Most good colleges have a dedicated focus on connecting, engaging and interacting with alumni, and do gain phenomenally from these alumni interactions. Consequently, the current student base do get to benefit for these alumni networks in terms of career counseling, guest lectures, industry connects and even job recruitment drives.
Lastly, 10 years after you’ve started working most people associate you with an educational institute than with a specific branch. So for e.g.: You’ll hear of Ms X as a Harvard alumni more often than Ms X as an Engineering student.
That’s my view. Would love to hear your views. Leave a comment to let me know
And if you need to make the decision now, GOOD LUCK to YOU
One point which has emerged again and again and again in all recent discussions I’ve been a part of is this “The IMPORTANCE of FOCUS“
Be it at home or work, If you are FOCUSED about what you WANT, you will most LIKELY GET IT!
If I look at the world around me, I see the following impediments :
(1) Lack of clarity on what to focus on? – For many of us, we don’t know what to focus our time and energies on. We don’t have any personal goals in life, and hence every day is like the one before – & we get caught in the monotony and drudgery of the “mandatory chores”.
Take a moment to think – What are your goals and dreams in life? And focus on them
(2) Too many distractions on a daily basis - Ok. You’ve done some thinking and soul-searching and have figured out your goals and dreams for life? You also took the next step and created a “workable plan”. And you are determined to get there.. But there’s just one little problem – There are just too many distractions on a daily basis – TV, Twitter, FaceBook, News, Movies, etc etc etc – The list is endless. Just how to stay focused amidst all this.
Well there’s no easy way apart from making a few choices and letting-go of what’s not important. Just focus on what you really want. It’s OK if you don’t know / see everything there is to see. You will be just fine!
(3) Lack of focus in the long term – Most of the really good things take time to get there. And somewhere along the way, the focus gets diluted for many of us. For e.g.: Let’s say you want to author a Research Paper. You start the research work, and then something more important / exciting cries for your attention. So you de-focus from the paper, and focus efforts else-where. Before you know, a week / month / year has elapsed, and the research paper is still in “draft mode”
Be aware of your personal life patterns. When you find yourself getting off-the-road, gently push yourself to come back on track – In whatever way it works. Key to success is LONG TERM FOCUS!
Ending with a few quotes from the wise:
“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” BY Tony Robbins
“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” BY Steve Jobs
Today (8 March) is International Women’s Day. A day dedicated and celebrated in honor of women. On this occasion, I wanted a write a special post on my blog, and was wondering what I should focus on. As I looked at women all around me, I couldn’t help but observe the striking issues of “Working MOTHERS” – After all, being a mother is an important identity for many women. And working MOTHERS are a reality in the modern economy!
They manage their home, their kids, their careers, their husband [Yes! Needs special mention ], their friends / families / other relationships, themselves and a zillion other things. For all that they do, my DEEPEST APPRECIATION and RESPECT!
But more importantly, what is the “REAL Dilemma” that Working Mothers face. As I reflect more on this, here’s my response:
(1) Getting the PRIORITIES Right
The challenge for most women is getting the priorities right – First in their head, and then in day-to-day action. If you are confused about your priority list, you will have challenges almost every single day. And this becomes all the more complicated because of the intricate nature of the dependencies and inter-dependencies based on your actions.
Take-Away : You should be able to identify the Top 5 priorities for the day, for the week, for the month, etc. And align your actions in line with these priorities.
(2) Managing EXPECTATIONS
Simply put, a working mother plays so many different roles – That of a mother, working professional, wife, daughter, sister, extended family, friend, home manager, cook, employer (in case you leverage support services within the 4 walls, etc.). And with each of these roles are several responsibilities – Both implicit and explicit! And expectations. The reality is that there are 24 hours in a day, and the world expects output worth 50 hours a day from a working mother. Somehow the math does not add up!
Take-Away : Setting and Managing expectations can alleviate a great majority of everyday challenges which most working mothers deal with. And clear communication is the key!
(3) Bridging the DICHOTOMY between the “Corporate World” and the “Other World”
The “Corporate World” expects results – Be it from a “man” or a “woman”. And to achieve results, one needs to be focused, objective, goal-oriented and to go for the kill. On the other hand, the “Other World” expects women to be flexible, accommodating, giving, sacrificing, soft-spoken, caring, nurturing. There is a “real dichotomy” between these two worlds. And it is really tough for most working mothers to transition between these two worlds on a daily basis – between morning to night!
Take-Away: I don’t know if there is any realistic solution for it, but just be aware and acknowledge that these are two different worlds and each expect different things from you
(4) Dealing with personal EMOTIONS
As a working mother, one goes through highs and lows of emotions frequently – Emotions of guilt, satisfaction, sadness, joy, self-rationalization, self-interrogation, etc. etc. At the end of the day, every women has to make personal choices. And with each choice, there are trade-offs. There is no RIGHT or WRONG! Just that every choice has a consequence which will impact your life. So once you make a choice, take responsibility for it! Emotions are a part of life. And they are integral in your personal journey.
Take-Away: Acknowledge and Accept your emotions. And find ways to deal with them!
(5) Finding it hard to say “NO”
Most of us find it hard to say “NO” to things which come our way. However the fact is that as a working mother, TIME is your most valuable resources. So you should value it and treasure it. And be judicious in how you invest it. No point in doing things which are not aligned with your priorities. If something comes you way that does not fit into your scheme of things, learn to say a loud and re-sounding “NO”
Take-Away: Start Saying “NO” to things which are not on your priority list. It is truly liberating!
(6) Aiming to make EVERYONE HAPPY ALL THE TIME
Take-Away: Accept it! You CANNOT make EVERYONE happy all the time. And that’s OK