Category Archives: Entrepreneurship
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
Its that time of the year again – The Annual Appraisal Time when an employee’s performance evaluation is done.. You are rated for your work, efforts and contributions in line with your objective for the year. While the process is a mandatory part of most organizations, it is also a good time for you to do a self-review, reflection and evaluation on your own career goals and performance – Honestly – Just for YOURSELF! And what is key would be to asses your career performance and career growth w.r.t your own professional aspirations and ambitions.
One question that I find extremely useful to ask myself is “What’s my Value Quotient (VQ)?” – Or in simple words “What is the UNIQUE VALUE that I bring to the TABLE at work“? – And value can really translate into anything that helps an individual employee deliver his / her responsibilities and perform in line / beyond expectations to help achieve an organization’s objectives – So it could be knowledge (Subject Matter expertise – Technology, Business Domain, Finance, etc.), Specific skills (communication, negotiation, Building and nurturing relationships, Expectation management, etc.), Professional networks, personal brand, etc. etc.
Food for Thought
* What is your Value Quotient (VQ) , i.e., What is the “UNIQUE VALUE” that you bring to the table at work? Can you write it in 1-3 sentences
* Has this value “INCREASED” in comparison to last year? – in your own assessment
* Has this value “INCREASED” in comparison to last year? – in your organization’s assessment
* Will these “parameters” be of VALUE to you 3 – 5 years from now?
* Will these “parameters” be of VALUE to your organization 3 – 5 years from now?
* What can you do to “enhance your VALUE” in the next 1 year?
* What can you do to enhance the perception of your VALUE in the next 1 year?
A few days ago, I had written a post on this blog Working Mothers – The “Real” Issues. The post got a lot of readership (Thanks to all those who read it) and also many people wrote back, and asked if there were any suggestions on how to deal with some / many of these.
Looking back at my own life – Ever since I became a mother myself, I have a new found respect and admiration for all working mothers.
No matter what you do
No matter where you live
No matter what else you do
If you’re a working mother
Hats off to you
Simply because every working mother had to deal with several “mini-projects” as I call it on a daily basis
Project 1 : Kids (A to Z)
Project 2 : Work / Career
Project 3 : Food and Cooking
Project 4 : Husband (Yes! A full time project )
Project 5 : Friends
Project 6 : Home Maintenance
Project 7 : Family
Project 8 : Self
Project 9 : Miscellaneous / Others
Just listing it down exhausted me! Then imagine how exhausting it would be to manage every single one of them, every single day!
Well, thankfully along the way I figured a few Mantras to make it easy for myself. In this post I am sharing my mantras with the hope that it may resonate or help you
Mantra 1 : Re-define Perfection
One of the most important milestone in my journey as a working mother was when I let-go of “PERFECTION”, rather I re-defined it. Yes, I accepted that everything and everyone will NOT be “perfect” all the time (even in my own eyes). And that’s OK! It’s OK if you don’t look your best always, It’s OK if you don’t have the cleanest house always, It’s OK if your cupboards are not the best organized always, It’s OK if you don’t get the BEST MOM Award everyday, It’s OK to say “No” at work – when the situation warrants, It’s just OK……. That single moment was the “Nirvana” moment
Mantra 2 : Let Go of Control
There is a strong co-relation between women and their need to control OR feel in control of things. Up to a point, it is good! Beyond that, it is ?.
As a working mother, it is important to acknowledge and accept that you will NOT be in control of everything all the time. Just re-calibrating your own expectations of what in in your control, and what is out of your control helps tremendously.
Next, finding realistic and practical ways to deal with situations which are beyond your control helps tremendously in finding balance between professional commitments and personal priorities
Mantra 3 : You are not a SUPERWOMAN ; Accept limitations
Yes! You are not born a SUPERWOMAN. You have your set of limitations, constraints and realities to live with. You have only 24 hours in a day, and only 2 eyes, 1 nose, 2 ears, 2 hands & 2 legs – like everyone else! You have your share of highs and lows, ups and downs, emotions, trials and tribulations.
(1) You cannot possibly make everyone happy all the time
(2) You may not be able to live up to everyone’s expectations all the time
(3) You may put yourself before others – sometimes or many times
All the (3) above are perfectly OK.
Mantra 4 : Ask “Will this REALLY matter 10 years from now?”
One of the most powerful question I ask myself when I have a tough time deciding things is “Will this REALLY matter 10 years from now?”. More often than not, I see the situation in a totally different perspective, and find satisfactory answers to whatever situation I am facing. Try it the next time you are up against a brick wall, and you will experience the difference.
Now I’d love to hear your Mantras. Leave a comment to let me know
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
Over the past several years, I have had the opportunity to work with several leaders – Leaders at organizations, Leaders within the 4 walls, Leaders in society, Leaders in groups & communities…
As I ponder over leadership, I can’t help but wonder about What is LEADERSHIP?
I think LEADERSHIP is a CHOICE….
A Choice to LEAD
A Choice to take RESPONSIBILITY
A Choice to INSPIRE
A Choice to make a DIFFERENCE
A Choice to DECIDE
A Choice to IMPROVE
A Choice to INFLUENCE
A Choice to EMPOWER
A Choice to DEFINE
A Choice to DESIGN
A Choice to CREATE
A Choice to MAINTAIN
A Choice to TRANSFORM
A Choice to ACT
A Choice to DREAM…..
What do you think? Leave a comment to let me know