Friday, May 27, 2011

We Are Underutilized

We are not operating at our 100% capacity. We are under utilizing our resources and wasting on top of that. Just for introspection, Do you know all the features of Microsoft Word? I doubt if everyone knew just how powerful Microsoft word is. In your company, if it is like very big then do you know all the different stuff it does? Many people as citizens don't even know what their rights are. It is no wonder why so many Attorneys are making millions in doing just basic stuff for their clients, forget about lawsuits.

How many times we throw away food because it's date had expired? Why do we buy things that we would never use them? First of all, we don't utilize the existing stuff we have and then we complain for not having access to enough resources. It doesn't make any sense. In an organization, many of its functions are unknown to its members. Because no one took care to explain them or make them simple enough to be understood. Why dealing with government stuff has to be so complex? I don't complain that governments don't do anything. I feel that they don't make it super easy for others to use their services. And some of them are improving greatly thanks to social media. Check NY City for example.

Now this one is my favorite burning point of this post. Before companies hire and fire people, why the heck they don't evaluate to their core whether they really need to hire and fire people. I believe very few companies go through a rigorous internal process of evaluating their needs before making a decision to hire a new person. Hire only if you desperately desperately need that person. And fire only when you can not find any other job for that person in your company. Firing people is the not the only way to cut costs in your company. In extreme cases like when you have outsource your business processes, it makes sense to fire people. But hey you can avoid that too.

If you want to find out how much potential your company has then put up an internal website that accepts people's inputs from Janitor to CEO of the company and display that information uncensored to everyone. And allow the entire company to submit their ideas on major issues that a company faces. Finally implement public voting system that would rank all ideas. It would be earth shattering in many companies. Honestly to do this kind of stuff it requires guts and tons of ego thrashing. You must absorb all of your ego like a Black Hole in the Universe that absorbs all light passing through it.

Even in the age of social media we under utilize lots of our facilities. Quick question. Does everyone realize just how powerful Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin is? Whenever we log in we just check the wall, pictures, status updates, play games and then log off. Next day come back, do same stuff and log off. We do it multiple times a day sometimes. That's not the only function of these platforms. If you use some of the features efficiently then you can build a community and address bigger problems of the world.

Ok, enough of me venting on the inefficiencies of the system, but remember there lies an opportunity in every inefficiency you find in a system. What the heck I am saying here? It's like, if you find that lots of people's computer just crashes because they don't keep their systems updated then you could provide a service that helps them solve their problem and then make money out of it. So if you are looking for a business opportunity then go find some system inefficiencies in any system of your choice and build a business out of it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Next Generation Will Be Those Of Entrepreneurs

I want to start this post with this status update I did over the weekend on my Facebook wall.

"When I went to school, college it was all about Engineers and Doctors. That's it. No questions asked. It was all the rage then. In the next generation it will be all about Entrepreneurs. If you are in dilemma to choose a country to settle, then go where Entrepreneurs are treated like Rock stars. Ever heard of Chile? Search about their Entrepreneurship program."

Although it didn't received it's share of discussion, I think Entrepreneurship is something everyone should strive for. No matter how big or small is the competition, you should not be deterred by it. Even if you are against Google or Apple, you can still be different and sell.

However, the point of the update was if you are in a dilemma to choose a place to settle then choose a place where Entrepreneurs are treated like Rock stars. Where lawmakers are pro-business, who can get things done in order for a new business to flourish in his/her area. Why? It becomes a lot more easier to focus on your core competency when you don't have to focus on government bureaucracy. Have you ever heard of Tata Nano Project? Yeah, the one that got shifted to a different state(Gujarat, India) within less than 3 days due months of agitation by farmers and West Bengal state's incompetency in handling the situation. That's true within 3 days. Waiting for months just to get approval from government to start a manufacturing facility is very damaging to a company.

An interesting point I mentioned in the status was about Chile's startup program. The program is sponsored by Chilean government, where a qualified entrepreneur gets $40,000 subsidy(no equity) to participate for six months, and a temporary 1-year visa to develop their projects along with access to most potent social and capital networks in the country. Chilean government is inviting global entrepreneurs to their country to solve their local problems with innovation. It is amazing endeavor by a Government.

The kind of environment(government and place), you choose for your business to operate can make or break the future of your business. The future entrepreneurs will solve real world problems and the businesses they will start will be global. Pay close attention here. The next generation will focus on global markets right from the start. Just see how Groupon has reached global markets within such a less time. Amazing. So if your place is not entrepreneur friendly then go where entrepreneurs are received with a red carpet, because going global is much easier than before.

And if you think what if there will be too many entrepreneurs then, I think it doesn't matter because there is a scarcity of entrepreneurs in the world and the world is still struggling with big problems. Almost half the world over three billion people live on less than $2.50 a day(see here). Answers to world's problems is not easy and not something even Google or Apple as figured it out. So I think there is lot of room for innovation and market opportunities. Just go pursue your dreams.

And if you are worried about millions of entrepreneurs then just think about the long tail. In the future, markets will be more fragmented and so much more opportunities will be created. It is just how you see it. And I don't say that stop pursuing engineering or medicine and hardly would anyone do on my words. But I believe our current and future generations will be more entrepreneurial.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Consistent And Sustainable Effort

Have you ever started something with great enthusiasm and then later found that it was over the very next day?  Many times I have found something working awesome for a moment but something happens and I loose focus, interest and I move on to next thing.  I have made schedules, calendars, timetables, and agendas hundreds of times and found that sticking them to it is very difficult and requires a diligent effort.  Almost always it never works for me.

We put tremendous amount of effort in taking an initiative but sometimes those initiatives go nowhere.  Have you tried doing sit ups, where you stand up and sit down, and do them like for 20 times?  When you do it the very first day, you start with great enthusiasm.  You do something like 10 to 15 and feel pumped up.  Awesome.  The problem starts when you wake up next day and realize that you have problem even lifting up your leg.  It pains like hell.  And this is only if you haven't done them since like very very long time.  Now next two days it pains so much that you just avoid doing it.  And in the midst of that you loose interest and focus.  I think this happens to most people and they just give up on that sit ups.  And they are never able to go back to it.

But the key in building great thighs is you do sit ups even the next day when it is paining heavily.  And as days pass you will develop great strength and you will be ninja in sit ups.  I think where most people screw up when they undertake any new initiative is over doing it.  Over doing something is a sure way of bringing that initiative to a halt.  You cannot force something on yourself overnight and then expect that it will last that way forever.

Reputation cannot be build over night by tweeting out 10 messages at time and then never do it for next few months.  It is built drop by drop.  To align your business around culture and its vision required a consistent and sustainable effort.  You cannot expect to have a stage 5 culture by conducting one giant meeting in a stadium with your people and be done with it.  Not gonna happen.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On Being Stupid

We do not want act stupid.  We want to be intelligent and smart.  Brave and Bold.  Being stupid doesn't feel right. It is not the preferred choice.  Will you make a smart choice or a stupid choice?  Smart of course as anyone would say it.  Wonderful but it is not always true.  The "smartness cover" on our mind makes us blind while making gutsy decisions.  Decisions on where we have to rely on our gut instinct.

Sometimes we have to leave our personal differences to make a smart choice and we can still look stupid.  These are tougher situations in life where you have to trust your heart and hope that some how dots will connect in the future.  And when those dots connect, you have to be wise enough to recognize them as decisions well made.

Friday, May 06, 2011

I Heard You Had A Great Idea

This is a nice one.  I have three one of the greatest and super awesome friends.  We have shared some great moments together.  Alright this is not a post about friendship and bonding.  It is about ideas.  Just wait a bit.  Oh ya, so whenever we used to hang out together we used to come up with super sexy ideas about starting our own businesses.  Yeah I heard you saying, "I too have had such moments in life".  Awesome.  Back in those days when we were together we used to think that if we execute our ideas then we would be rock stars of the stock market, the next Bill Gates and the next McBrothers of Burger industry.  The reality had different thing for us.  Instead of rocking the future, I am certain that future rocked all four of us apart in four different corners of the world.

What I found the factor behind our failed attempts of becoming oil tycoons was that we never did anything.  We just talked.  And talked.  Oh ! and again we are still talking.  Just yesterday I was talking to one of my misplaced friend and he said, "I want to start my own business but I don't have any killer ideas now as we used to have".   I believe that Ideas are worthless, absolutely worth no dollar value if they are not executed.   Ideas don't matter if they don't spread and  if they don't create any value.  You and I can make a burger 10% times better and healthier at home than your favorite fast food joint.  But can you and I sell 10, 100, 1000, million and I heard McDonalds sells billions of burgers.  McDonalds have created value not by an idea on its own.  It takes religious effort and hard work to so something.   Microsoft Windows was created by zillions of man hours.  The value is in creating something.

Have you heard of Friendster?  Yeah in those days it supported social networking.  It was a great idea.  What happened to it now.  Who is the McDonalds of social media?  Facebook.   It is there not because of a great idea but because of relentless effort.  Nights and Nights of hard work has gone into building Facebook.  If you have a great Idea, then it is excellent because not many people have ideas.  But you know what will count even more?  If you did something about it, because not many people do something about their ideas.  Yes.  Do you have an idea about creating efficient cars for the future?  And will you do something about it?

And this what I told my friend, "Don't wait for the killer idea, because it will never come.  Even if it comes you will think what if someone did it or copied it.  Stop thinking and just start something.  Just start.  Over time you will come to know the real value of an Idea".    

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Are You A Day Dreamer?

I am reading book named, "The Best Software Writing I"  which assembles talks, articles and thoughts on software given by great people like Adam Bosworth, Raymond Chen, Paul Graham and you get the idea of people.   If you don't get it, don't worry, I found something interesting in this book.   If you are a software engineer then do yourself a favor by reading this book.

Adam Bosworth mentions about what T. E. Lawrence wrote in "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" and I am going to directly quote it below.

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible."

Adam finishes in style inspiring us to dream with eyes open.

I encourage all of you to act your dreams with open eyes. I encourage all of you to dream of an internet that enables people to work together, to communicate, to collaborate, and to discover. I encourage all of you to remember, that in the long run, we are all human and, as you add value, add it in ways that are simple, flexible, sloppy, and, in the end, everything that the Platonists in you abhor.

So for all those who are dream during the day, I feel that it is ok to dream with eyes wide open.  I believe that day dreams persists longer and we strive to make them possible.  I never remember my night dreams.  Your day dreams are about your passion, wish, emotion, ambition.