Saturday, January 29, 2011

What can Executives learn from Obama’s State of the Union speech? (Part 1)

In the State of the Union speech, Obama touched many critical issues related to the growth of the United States. Delivering his annual State of the Union address to the US Congress, Obama made various references to emerging economies like India and China. He also unveiled his plan to maintain American leadership in an increasingly competitive world marked by the surge of nations like India and China. His plan relied on four key pillars - innovate, educate, build, and reform. These are four few crucial things that Executives should learn from his speech. In this blog, I will concentrate on innovation.

In today’s environment, most of the companies are reducing their R&D spending by drastic amount. They are trying to cut almost everything to reduce their spending and improve their profit margin. This might be the good strategy for the short-term, but it is definitely not sustainable on long-term basis. History speaks for itself. By just one Google search, you will be able to find various companies, who lost their competitive edge by reducing their spending on R&D. Reverse of this is true too. Look at Apple for example, it differentiate itself by bringing innovative products in to the market. Maybe that’s the only reason why they have crazy fan following.

Obviously, just pouring money in to R&D without an actual plan will get you nowhere. So, create an innovation plan before you think of investing in R&D. Define your goals and clarify your objectives. One thing that might help is to create a small research team, who think more broadly and creatively without outside pressure. Don’t be like those big companies, who eat their own children. Create an environment where your employees can feel innovative. Don’t be afraid of disrupting your own revenue stream with a new unit. Empower your employees to innovate, and change the organization’s culture to think out of the box. Don’t ever ditch all the little initiatives to focus on core business without at least acknowledging them.

So, what do you think? Do you have any other ideas to create an innovative environment? If you do, then please feel free to share your opinion with me. I would love to hear from you. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

Sunday, January 23, 2011

How to create a perfect Action Plan

Thanks to LinkedIn, this weekend I met my old friend from high school. He is now a Manager at one of the biggest MNCs (Multi National Companies) in India. While we were talking on skype, I came to know that he is also facing similar work challenges as other Managers.

Almost all the Managers create Action Plans to make sure that a particular amount of work gets done. But most of the times, they forget to follow up on the assignments. I have seen many managers, who work on problem-and-solution kind of approach. They will have many action plans for other items, but they don't get any priorities until failure to execute those plans disrupts the normal operation of the business. In that case, they forget about the old action plan and work on resolving the current issue. This keeps on happening again and again. So, what can you do to ensure that Action Plan is taken seriously?

I can't tell you the perfect answer for this question, but I have developed few strategies throughout my experience, which helps me in ensuring that my Action Plans are implemented properly.
- Request your managers to kick off biweekly meeting, stressing the import-
ance of the Action Plan. This meeting will help you in getting all mangers on one page, and ensuring the importance of the Action Plans.
- Invite different team leads in these meetings to share their stories about some of the key competencies and why they are critical to the success of the organization.
- Don't forget to send a copy of the Action Plans after every meeting. This action plan should contain: action item, person responsible to finish that task, probable end date for that task, etc.
- Ask the group members to set up a meeting with their supervisors to
go over their Action Plans as homework.
- Make sure that your supervisor or leader must attend this meeting on regular basis to stress the importance of these meetings.
- As homework, ask each participant to meet with each of his or her team members to informally listen to each worker’s career goals.
- And yeah! Don't forget to review the results in a follow-up session. Even if your goals have changed from the last meeting, you should still follow-up. This will give you the opportunity to at least document the to-date progress of that particular action item.

So, what do you think? Do you have any other ideas to create a perfect and workable Action Plan? If you do, then please feel free to share your opinion with me. I would love to hear from you. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Future of collaboration – The Obama way

I recently helped one of my clients to create a collaborative application with their suppliers. This piece of software will help them in reducing their administrative costs by huge amount, and improve their process efficiency. During this entire process, I kept wondering about the future of collaboration.

In today’s world, the collaborative possibilities are transforming the way organizations operate. Look at the presidential primary campaign of 2008, Barack Obama became what The New York Times described as the first real “wiki-candidate”‘, with an online fundraising operation that operated in much the same way as social networking sites like MySpace or YouTube. The ‘’ site offered users a practically unlimited array of ways to participate in the campaign. You can register to vote, or start your own affinity group, or download an Obama news widget to stay current, or get text-message updates on your mobile phone, etc. This list goes on. But the important thing to learn here is - Barack Obama’s campaign is a sign of things to come. It involved and connected voters in new ways, allowing mass participation in politics on an unprecedented level.

Now, let’s forget about the politics for the time being. Have you ever had chance to look at one iPhone app – the barcode scanner? This app is a live example of the future of collaboration. Using this app is really simple. You just have to scan the barcode of the product that you like, using your iPhone camera, and it will show you the price of the exact same product in other stores. I personally think that this is the future of collaboration. In the future, people will use technology as their primary resource for collaboration. Doctors will be able to see your complete medical history by just one click; Universities will be able to see your transcripts from another University in a second; business will be able to accurately predict the demand of their consumers. Those days are not far away, when your Doctors will be able to see your payback capacity (credit history) before operating on you.

I hope my article was helpful, and I am eager to hear your feedback. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi