The 7 Treasured Lessons from Corporate Innovation Experiences

I’ve been part of different corporate innovation initiatives from 2008 till date. And during this tenure, the most noteworthy change is that corporate innovation has transitioned from “Nice to Do” to “Good to Do” to “Must Do”…

Along this journey,
• I have had the opportunity to play a diverse set of roles and shouldered varied responsibilities – The key ones being a Business Owner to a Project Manager to a Business / Process Analyst to a Marketing / GTM (Go-To-Market) Specialist to Solution Specialist to Requirements Specification Owner
• I have interacted with a diverse set of individuals – internal and external to the organization {partners, analysts, customers (Diverse domains, Diverse positions in the organizational hierarchy [starting from the CEO to end-users] and from different parts of the globe}
• I have been involved in diverse kinds of innovation projects – from business to technology to process; each with a different team composition (2 to 20)

And the bottom line is this – Each of these initiatives achieved a different level of success.

How do you define the success of a corporate innovation?
The answer is simple and straight forward: The innovation initiative should generate the promised Return on Investment. If not, it is usually considered a failure in the business sense.

Going purely by this definition, I’d have to confess that some of the corporate innovation initiatives that I’ve been a part of were SUCCESSFUL and some were FAILURES…

Did we have cool ideas? Sure – We did!
Did we have a grand vision? Sure – We did!
Did we have a great team? Sure – We did!
Did we build what we set out to? Sure – We did!
Did we win business? Sure – We did!
Did we impact the organizations brand image in a positive way? Sure – We did!
Most importantly, Did we LEARN, GROW and EVOLVE? Sure – We did!

In this article, I will list the 7 TREASURED Lessons from the experiences in CORPORATE INNOVATIONS that I was a part of:
1) There are three distinct phases in the Innovation Life Cycle and each requires a different mind set
2) Your idea need not be unique; How you position your innovation makes all the difference
3) The Business Plan is just a baseline plan
4) When you start the GTM [Go-To-Market] activities can make all the difference
5) The first customer is the most crucial in your journey to success
6) Corporate Innovation should be a priority from the top
7) Internal communication and collaboration is critical to succeed

For full reading, refer to my artcile in the IIMB Alumni Magazine | Summer 2012 (pages 22 – 25)

The 5 Cherished Lessons from 18 Guest Posts and 2179+ Tweets / Shares

Want to become a star by Guest Posting?

Over the last few months, I have posted as a guest blogger on several sites on a variety of topics. In terms of base data, I have posted 18 guest posts on 6 blogs. In terms of response, there have been 169+ comments and 2179+ Tweets / Shares (as of 24 Jan 2012).

The master list is below:

 

Site Topic of the Post Number of Tweets / Shares (as on 24 Jan 2012) Number of Comments (as on 24 Jan 2012)
ProBlogger.com Why you should wear the 6 Thinking Hats on your blog? 812 45
12Most.com 12 Most Vital Things To Do After Turning 30 68 2
  12 Most Vital Facets of a Broker 79 4
  12 Most Noteworthy Aspects of Cooking 41 4
  12 Most Tornadic Ways in which the Weather Affects your Life 88 2
  12 Most Genuine Ways to Support a Cause 108 5
  12 Most Mesmerizing Mantras on how to publish 321 blogs in 321 days 108 28
  12 Most Wonderful Moments in the first year of Motherhood 298 13
  12 Most Compelling Reasons for you to write 215 29
FamousBloggers Focus on Diversity in your blog 87 11
The Change Blog 12 Choices To Transform your life 263 24
PaulWriter 9 Must-Have’s for a Senior Marketing Executive 4 0
  Success of a Blog 1 0
  Social Media Legacy 1 0
  Who Rules Social Media? – Content Creators or Content Consumers 1 0
  Marketing at Surajkund Crafts Mela 1 0
  How to create your online personal brand? 1 0
MindBlogs To RN 3 2

NOTE – Above data is based primarily on the statistics published on the web-sites and does not include Re-Tweets, Forwards, etc. In reality, the number of Tweets / Shares is significantly higher than the numbers quoted above.

I did a further analysis of each of these sites as listed below:

Site Run by Focus of the Blog Twitter Profile Number of Twitter Followers (as on 18 Jan 2012) 
ProBlogger.com Darren Rowse Blogging @ProBlogger 153504
12Most.com Paul Biedermann & Peggy Fitzpatrick Business, Media,Lifestyle @12Most 5275
FamousBloggers Hesham Zebida Blogging, Making Money Online Tips @FamousBloggers 16498
The Change Blog Peter Clemens Positive Change in Life @PeterClemens 2474
PaulWriter Jessie Paul Marketing @paulwriter , 414
@jessie_paul 4723
MindBlogs Nirmala Govindarajan, Zahid H Javali & Christina Daniels Diverse @mindblogs 49

 As you can observe by the data, I have posted on

A diverse set of blogs on
A diverse set of topics and
Received a diverse set of responses…
What’s common is this – I have put my mind, heart, sweat and soul into each of them & each of these posts is dear to ME for many different reasons

In this post, I will share the 5 Most Valuable Learning’s from these Guest Posting experiences:

1) CONTENT is the KING
You must have heard of the adage that content is king. From my personal experience, I can vouch for this! It’s TRUE. If you write quality content, you will eventually find your way to the RIGHT blogs and in turn to the RIGHT readers (& of course over a period of time)

The 4 things that can be attributed to Quality Content are:
i) Blog Title – A Well-Thought out Blog Title definitely catches reader attention
ii) Originality in Expression – And here’s where your creativity and literary skills will make the difference
iii) Honesty in Articulation – I use the word honesty because even if it is a simple message which people have read several times before, if you are honest in the way you articulate, it will be well received. And if it’s based on your personal experience, then the level of content integrity is definitely HIGH!
iv) Language (English) Accuracy – And this includes the right spelling, right grammar, right punctuations and right vocabulary!
Novelty in the subject and content is a definite bonus, but NOT a Must-Have

2) Choose the RIGHT BLOG to PUBLISH your Guest Post
You have great content. But it is of limited value if it does not reach the RIGHT EYES. So once you have written a post, pause and ask yourself “What is the target reader profile that should read this post?”

Once you have answered this question to yourself, follow it up with a thorough research and analysis on the various sites that you can explore for guest posting. Zero-in of the BEST CHOICE and then contact the site owners with a request to review your post for publication on their site. Be open to their suggestions and feedback, and make the changes. Simply because they have the best understanding of their target readers!

3) The BLOG MARKETING is the real DIFFERENTIATOR!!!
You have written great content. You guest post if finally published on a blog of your choice. But what is that missing link between the posts which get maximum readership and those which don’t really get there. It’s the MARKETING strategy!

If you have a guest post on a blog, then the blog / site owners usually do promote your post through multiple channels. For e.g.: Their own personal Twitter handles, The Twitter handles of their site / blog (in case it exists). In addition, you should ensure that you do market your own guest post using a combination of channels like mail, FaceBook Status, Twitter, Blog, Personal Chat, face-to-face discussions with family and friends, etc.

Personally, the most critical learning for me is that you should continue to market your posts on a periodic basis. Most bloggers aggressively market their posts only when they go live and then don’t really follow it up with any additional marketing. Don’t assume that your target readers would have read your post the first time you share it. Do invest in planning and implementing a blog marketing strategy for your post over a period of time – This is critical to reach a larger reader base

4) ONE Tweet / ReTweet (RT) has the potential to CREATE a DYNAMO EFFECT
My post 12 Most Wonderful Moments in the First Year of Motherhood was RT by Alyssa Milano (Yes! The Hollywood actress and former singer) & Jure Klepic (who was represented in Forbes’ Top 10 Influencers in Social Media) and it went viral after that.

The truth is this – If your post is RT by a real-world / cyber-world celebrity, then the readers who will even eye your content goes up by exponentially.  And you can increase your chance of being RT by a celebrity by writing superior quality content and focus on a well-thought out marketing strategy.

5) The BRAND Image of the BLOG makes all the DIFFERENCE
I’ve realized that every blog has a brand image – Which is determined by
i) The individuals and teams who run the blog (For e.g.: Kudos to Paul Biedermann & Peggy Fitzpatrick for the positivity, energy, vibrancy and TRUE community spirit they foster at 12Most.com),
ii) The frequency, consistency and quality of content posted on the site and
iii) The strategy to engage, nurture and build the reader & writer community

Based on the Brand image of a blog, it attracts a different set of reader base and retains a sub-set of one-time readers as loyal followers. And the interest, reactions and response that any guest post receives on this site is reflective partially of the brand image of the blog!!

Ending Words of Wisdom

Content is KING, Social Media is the NEW QUEEN
And together they RULE the online world!!!

So, here are your options:
1) Be the KING – By generating GREAT content! AND
2) Befriend the QUEEN – By understanding and leveraging the power of Social Media OR
3) Be prepared to let the KING and QUEEN rule you’re WORLD!
Which one will you pick?

SPECIAL REQUEST TO YOU
I would be HAPPY if you  Tweeted / Shared / Forward in your network to spread this message…
I would be HONORED if you took a moment to leave a comment…

On that note, Happy Blogging!!!

Women in Leadership

I recently had the opportunity to attend a corporate training on Women in Leadership.. The first program I am attending in my career which was all women, about women and for women…

Key Reverberations

* Great to see so many women in leadership roles in the corporate context . The diversity in individual profiles, roles and their journeys is incredible!
 * In terms of profile of attendees on this training, majority were in the age group 27 – 40 and about 90% were married and with kids
 * If I had to summarize the top 3 points that were echoed in this session, it was around:
(1) Flexibility at work during phases of life when there was a major change in a women’s life – For e.g.: Birth of a baby
(2) Importance of ME time – Some time for themselves apart from professional and domestic responsibilities
(3) Availability of the right opportunities in the corporate context – Aligned to one’s profile, aspirations, growth – both individual and organization growth
* For a question on “What do you really want in your future?” – It was interesting to note that majority of the women wanted:
(1) Happiness – Though the definition of what makes one happy was personal
(2) Time for work and life out of work
(3) Peace of mind and harmony
 * The most powerful message was that You cannot be a superwomen / supermom all the time – Being a women / mother means that you play many different roles and have many stakeholders who will expect different things from you.. What is important is to accept that you will not be able to give your 100% all the time to what everyone expects from you & you will not be able to make everyone happy all the time.
For this, you need to be clear about your priorities and make choices. You win some, you lose some.. But then! That’s life

* Life is eventually about choices – and every choice you make has a trade-off. You may not be aware of all the trade-offs when you make a choice – But be sure that there will be some positives and some negatives. You have got to accept it and move ahead!
 * Identify your leadership style – Be aware of it, Identify your strengths and consciously work on your improvement areas
 * Who moved my cheese? – I’ve read the book and watched the movie several times; and yet every time I see it, it will inspire. I guess that’s the beauty of a true classic. The key messages that I took-away this time are:
(1) Have clarity on your goals – personal or professional
(2) Change is inevitable ; Plan for it & Be prepared for it
(3) Move out of your comfort zone ; It’s important for learning, growth and progress
(4) Your life journey and destination is yours – It’s personal, It’s a choice…
(5) Surround yourself with positive thoughts and people; Keep at bay negative thoughts, people and energies
(6) Invest some time and effort in observing your environment (personal / professional) – That’s the only way to be aware of changes around you
(7) Don’t over analyze everything in life; Lest it leads you to the analysis paralysis state
 * Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Speech on “Why we have too few women leaders” @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18uDutylDa4  is inspiring!
Key take-aways:

(1) ‘The Most Important Career Choice You’ll Make Is Who You Marry’ @  http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-12-01/strategy/30462131_1_powerful-women-sheryl-sandberg-facebook-coo.
I agree with this completely; especially as you grow in any organization and especially once you have children, a women realizes the importance of having the right partner

(2) “Until Women Are As Ambitious As Men, They’re Not Going To Achieve As Much’” @ http://techcrunch.com/2011/11/07/sheryl-sandberg-women/
(3) “Women unlike men encountered tradeoffs between success and likeability” (Excerpt from Sheryl’s interview) – So true!
(4) “Women are not dropping out to have a child. They’re dropping out because they have no opportunity” (Excerpt from Sheryl’s interview) – Again very rightly said! Given the right opportunity, flexibility and back-end support goes a long way in women joining the work-force and ensure a different level of work commitment and loyalty
 

* A talk from a senior successful women leader highlighted on the following for women in the corporate world:

1) Choose your life partner wisely (and this includes your in-laws as well)
2) Stay fit, Stay healthy – Important for the long haul
3) Build a network of strong friends and networks – both at work and outside work. Very critical for life
4) Have a mentor (formal / informal)
5) Focus and lay emphasis on personal grooming and etiquette – key for a women
6) If you are invited for a meeting, make sure you are well-prepared. Have a well thought point of view which you will express during the discussion. If you don’t have anything meaningful to say, be quiet rather than saying the wrong thing. One wrong word or statement from a women in a leadership role has the potential to change the course of your career forever

 * Wise words from Indrani Nooyi which I felt were appropriate to quote in this blog (All from published sources)
(1) It’s some­thing my mother used to tell me. She said: “They can take away the CEO from you, but they can’t take the woman away from you, they can’t take your hus­band away from you, they can’t take your chil­dren away from you. So don’t for­get that– don’t for­get how you have to be anchored in your fam­ily.” Hon­estly, I’m not sure how I can be a CEO with­out being a wife, a mother and a daugh­ter. Because that’s who I am at my core. I love my fam­ily, so I work hard to make sure that part of my life that makes me who I am is always true. I work at it.”
(2) “I’m so secure in myself, I don’t have to be American to play in the corporate life”
(3) She views PepsiCo as an extended family and everybody at the company is there to help in every way possible. Sometime ago, when Indra was traveling, her daughter would call the office to ask for permission to play Nintendo. The receptionist would know the routine and ask: “Have you finished your homework? Have you had your snack? OK, you can play Nintendo for half an hour”. She then left a voice message for Indra saying “I gave Tara permission to play Nintendo”. Unheard of in most corporations, it’s a team Indra has built up at PepsiCo which knows each other so well.
(4) When I became the president, at 10 o’clock in the night I went home and said, ‘Mom I have some very important news’. To which she said ‘leave that important news, just go buy some milk’. To which, I said, ‘Raj is home, why don’t you ask him to buy the milk?’ She said, ‘he is tired’. Typical mother you know, can’t disturb the son-in-law! I was very upset, but I went and bought the milk and banged it on the kitchen table in front of her and said, ‘Tell me, why do I have to buy the milk and not somebody else.’ She just looked at me – and I will never forget it and it was a powerful lesson she left in me and said – ‘look, when you pull into the garage, leave the crown there. Don’t walk in with it, because you are first a wife and a mother. And if the family needs milk, you go get the milk. That is your primary role in life. Everything else is what you acquired or what you got because I pray for four to five hours a day.’ That is the only thing she tells me. She says, ‘what did you accomplish? You sit in a meeting on a chair all the time, and I pray for 4-5 hours.’
 

* It is important to have a personal action plan for learning and growth – You can choose the areas, But focus on at most 2 areas for every 3 months