Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Preparing for a better tomorrow

This I had written when I was heading Academics of a management institute in India. Happened to find it in my pandora's box - sharing with you all.

“Tomorrow belongs to people who prepare for it today”. And the realization of this wisdom is the cause of all my angst. Who doesn’t want to see his career sky-rocketing or contentment at his doorsteps, tomorrow? We all do. And knowingly or not, we are all preparing ourselves to approach a better tomorrow. I am the one for sure who is doing it religiously. It has been ages that I have stopped seeing things, now I observe them. I don’t hear any sound, it hardly matters what the source of this sound is, for I indifferently listen to it! If I am not exaggerating, I realize while I write this, that my whole body has become a dependent function of my brain. Something like this:

Observation (Seeing) = f (Brain (eyes))

This knowledge definitely gives profound meanings to arcane facts, but so often, also makes simple things of life unreasonably complicated. We all (the dreamers or the ambitious multitude) are in one way or the other, a victim of this jugglery- the actors of self – development play; some enjoy and stay while others regret and stay. With no difference, share neighborhood in tomorrow’s planet. So what is the architecture, which builds house at different levels of elevation? What is that equation which gives an increasing trend to the graph of our career? What is that preparedness, which drives us to the tomorrow, most desired?

A solid academic background, an intellectual outlook, fair sense of reasoning, a repository of skills etc. are few of the many attributes that mark our executives. The world is an open field of information. And it is in this era of global convergence of knowledge, technology and business that imperative attention needs to be given on the important aspects of what is to be learned and acquired from such noise in the environment. New information must be processed, structured, and connected in such a way as to be accessible in the future. Right skill, if not utilized at the right time, brings no returns. And so are opportunities, if not received at the precise point, are dead opportunities.

The days ahead don’t belong to people who just work hard, but to them who work smarter too. Being perceptive of and coherent with the demands of future, treading the path that is in line with the goals set, takes you much ahead. To hit the nail on a target, what is needed is a proper tool to do so. Akin to the same, there is always the need of apt tools to achieve objectives of life. The quest is in identifying these tools and making them useful to the purpose of emerging as successful. Be spectacular; observe the future, and act before it occurs.

The matters of present importance and future prospects are best known and discussed in communities of proficient and expert practitioners and researchers of the world outside. Attending seminars or workshops, undergoing trainings to enhance niche areas of competencies, etc are few of avenues, which provide with opportunities to not only get skilled but also to meet people and understand the trends and thoughts of contemporaries. In short course of time, the prospect of exchanging and acquiring knowledge and progressive ideas, is a prudent way of enhancing ones aspects.

The place on the zenith is limited and the competition is tough. We have to spend the rest of our lives in the world of future we choose for ourselves. The time demands us to act now.We always find it easier to be a result of the past rather than a cause of the future. We must equip ourselves to create not just enter the future.

Are we prepared enough???

Friday, May 05, 2006

Why did I decide to do MBA

“I recall of a short story. This is a story of construction workers working on a site where a temple was to be built. When asked about the work, one said, he was laying bricks for the foundation, the other said, he was cementing, but the third one said, he was building a temple. “

I started my career as a “developer” in a software company (CSC India). After working for 2-3 years in different roles that involved developing, testing, client interactions and solution architecting, I realized that I lack the disciplinary rigor to see forest for trees. So I was like the construction worker who knew that he was building something but was disconnected from the vision, the temple. Likewise, I was able to see what our goal was but was unable to appreciate the beauty.

More soul searching and few more weeks of abstraction revealed that it is the applications of the technology rather than the technology itself, which is the key. Technology is great thing to know but more important was to know what makes solutions, solutions that work for consumers. “Whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, which, later was discussed on several occasions during my MBA, was in fact driving me to know more about the other areas of business. I, by that time had enough experience working in pure technical roles and that was the time, I felt, I needed to equip myself with not just technical know-how but also with a strong knowledge of business dynamics and no casual reading would do that. I needed to go through the best formal education.

With this understandings and expectations of learning, I took up the Executive MBA course from XLRI. While I was in the first year of the course, I left the software company to join a start-up business school. I traded off my salary for the challenges ahead. This job (of 2 years duration) gave me an immense understanding of setting up a business, problems inherent in maintaining the resources, plans and execution of growth. I could actually find an application of knowledge and instantly visualize the contexts in which theory can merge with practice.

Currently, I am working as Product Specialist in a software company in SanFransisco, USA.

MBA has given me the confidence and versatility to perform beyond the IT sector, where I had started my career first, at my free will. I am happy that I have the required foundation to be construction worker who not only is aware that he is building temple and but also one who knows his temple.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Continuous Decision-Oriented Planning

I was reading some statistics of companies and what I found was that companies with standard planning processes and practices make on an average 2.5 major strategic decisions (major means - impacting potential increase in profit by 10% or more). The planning approach is "Annual Review focussed on Business Units". However, if considered and compared with the amount of time companies and executives spend in planning and meeting, this number reflects a very slow decision making process.

A breakthrough model that is being adopted by many companies is “Continuous Decision-Oriented Planning”. This model is established on the premise of issue based decision making. The procecss goes like this- The company identifies the strategic priorities for the year, in an annual meeting and then, special task forces spread across the year to reach decisions on as many issues as possible. The entire decision making completes in two meetings - first around the facts of issues and alternative solutions and second on evaluation of the solutions and selection of the best course of action. Once an issue is resolved, a new is added. This also facilitates addition of new critical issues based on market demand and competition. The entire process is always proceeded by ample preparaion time. The diagramatic representation of the model is as shown below: