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Best way to keep your job

Business Strategy, Uncategorized

The best way to keep your job is not to hog onto the knowledge you have, but the other way around, i.e., sharing that information/ knowledge with others. People may think that the best way to survive layoffs or grow within an organization is to guard the knowledge they have  or to mystify the processes they perform on a day-to-day basis. This approach may be successful in large, bureaucratic organizations, but it has no place in a competitive, growing company. The reality is that management looks at individuals who keep information to themselves, and not share and provide visibility to others, as impediments to growth. In most cases, these people either get removed or have their roles curtailed.

The recipee to success is to be open about one’s knowledge and be willing to provide full visibility to others. It may seem that by adopting that approach, one could make themselves prime target for downsizing, but to the contrary. Individuals who are able to document and stream-line their daily activities are more likely to be successful. Management views them as elements of success and will shift greater responsibility towards these individuals. Getting the job done is most important, but allowing others to understand how it is done is priceless. It doesn’t rob one off earning the due credit; it only helps them climb up corporate ladders even faster.   

April 20, 2008   |     Comments(0)   |   Posted by: Imran Aftab

When rules start becoming handcuffs…

Business Strategy, Software Strategy, Uncategorized

Rules are meant to be handrails, not handcuffs. I have always found great wisdom from this saying which I first heard as a freshman in college from a colleague, who attributed it to his father, an honorable army man. 

I am a very strong proponent of having process and rules, as long as these do not begin to hinder progress. Time and again, I have come across many situations in corporations I have worked directly or indirectly for where process is to be blamed for their inability to execute. Typically it is IT department versus the business playing a tennis match in slow motion without making any headway. Of course, business thinks everything is highest priority and that somehow the IT department can conjure up resources to deliver on 120 requirements at an electrifying pace. The IT person pretty much is inundated with requests and is already over-worked. Their best course of defence is to make sure that only the ”plastic” balls are being dropped, while the “glass” ones continue to be juggled. This means that the IT person wants the business to follow the process and formally submit their requirements and wish lists that can be then prioritized with respect to other projects in the pipeline. There lies the trap. Processes can be stifling especially if one is trying to grow a mile a second. 

Any process that is not flexible is bound to fail, and therefore not a good process. Bad processes are not due to only one department’s fault.  It is often a result of setting incorrect priorities by management, shortage of resources or simply b/cthe organization is growing too fast. 

Each situation is unique, but generally the problem lies with trying to put a general work flow to all activities. Any company will have steady state and non-steady state activities, and obviously in a start up, the non-steady state activities should exceed as the organization takes off. Agile development, project and product management is required. It may be implemented through a parallel or auxiliary team. Incentives to foster prompt delivery are also good idea.


March 30, 2008   |     Comments(0)   |   Posted by: Imran Aftab

creativity through process

Software Strategy, Uncategorized, Web Development, Web Strategy

It almost seems an oxymoron to talk about creativity and process at the same time, as one typically negates the other. However, the truth is that often creativity is an iterative process.  How often have we seen writers tear up mulitple pages, before they really settle on writing, or how often does the artist start anew until they find that perfect start.  Some gifted creative professionals can go through the iterative proces in their heads without needing to ink or materialize their vision.

In the world of GUI and design, the ideal design is achieved through numerous renditions/ iterations which take time. It is unrealistic to expect a highly creative/ perfect GUI in a short period of time, specially if the vision keeps changing or is not clear. Factor in strong branding guidelines and the personal likes/ dislikes of the customer, coupled with the designer’s own creative take- this whole creative process could be very frustrating.

The best approach is to allow sufficient time for the design process, have lots of patience, and not make judgements about anything until the final product is delivered. In cases where there is very little flexibility with time, one has to compromise on quality.

March 15, 2008   |     Comments(0)   |   Posted by: Imran Aftab

and then the Donkey got smarter…

Business Strategy, Entreprenuership, Uncategorized

donkey evades the carrot 

If you’re a service provider/ seller, how often have you heard from your clients/ prospects about future bigger projects/ deals/ business that they would like to bring to you. But only if you do an unbelievable job on the current project at an extremely competitive price point. Or how often have you received a call from a buddy of yours who never seem to return your phone call, but calls now to offer you an amazing opportunity that is coming down the pike, but of course, only after you do a favor for them. Well, I too have been naive enough to chase these “perpetual” carrots. Even Donkeys catch on after a while, and so have I.

Here’s some advice- anyone who wants to help you, should help you unconditionally.  Once you receive the favor, you definitely should return it, but it should be something unsaid and not demanded by the person doing you the favor.  Do not bend over backwards for clients that promise you the sky afterwards.  It is always good to go the extra mile for your customers, but do not fool yourself into thinking that the customer would really bring you more business once they are done with the current one. That being said, every situation is unique. There may be cases where do you want to act the donkey, if the customer is a name brand customer that will help you improve your portfolio of clients, etc.

This is specially true in the world of BPO/outsourcing/ offshoring.  The whole idea of the Gain-Share or better put, Carrot and Stick model where the vendor gets a reward for meeting/ beating targets and penalized for missing them is the perfect example. Setting aspirational targets, that are not based on any median/mean/ historical calculations, is a recipee for disaster. The vendor will give up trying becoming disillusioned if it feels that the targets are unachievable.

This also applies in the case of direct employees.  If one does not incent employees appropriately, the good employees will move on. 

My advice to people dangling the carrots is to keep it real.  It serves no purpose when one makes false promises.  People are smart enough..

My advice to us donkeys :) is to not be a dumb ”donkey”; take some time to check if the carrot is for real or just a mirage…

March 11, 2008   |     Comments(0)   |   Posted by: Imran Aftab

No excuses for an unprofessional web presence anymore

Business Strategy, Uncategorized, Web Strategy

The web is the most economical channel that a business can have to market and/or sell their services/products. Not only is it available 24/7, it is also accessible by anyone from any place as long as they have internet access. Businesses who do not have a professional web presence are not only missing out on an opportunity to leverage this efficient sales and marketing channel, they are also arguably doing “disservice” to their own company. The Economist in an article a couple of years back stated that a less than professional website is worse than not having a website at all. There is no tolerance for a site that is difficult to load, or is not pleasing to the eyes. In some ways, it reflects the business’ attitude towards quality and service. Read on…

February 20, 2008   |     Comments(0)   |   Posted by: Imran Aftab

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars

Entreprenuership, Uncategorized


Cassius was a shrewd motivator, and he delivered the perfect line to rile up Brutus with:

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

I wonder how I would have reacted if I was in Brutus’ place. Probably would have agreed too, as there is so much truth to this line. Very often we blame our circumstances, past, financial background even our family for our short-comings and failures. It is not easy to go against the flow, but those who endure the journey will forever detest mediocrity. They will realize that it is they themselves who are the biggest inhibitor to reaching their dreams.

Read on…

February 19, 2008   |     Comments(0)   |   Posted by: Imran Aftab
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