Mar 09

One of my close friends recently decided to leave Microsoft and start his own company. He has been with Microsoft for a long time and the change from MS to a starting a new organization will be a big one. When I started thinking about this change I started thinking about my own journey through various organizations. Every organization has an character, a heart and a soul. What do I mean? Let me take you through my journey through these organizations and explain…

Baan(1997-2000): A Successful ERP company trying to accept globalization and experimenting with distributed development across NL, US and India. In 1997 that was tough thing to do with infrastructure limitations and also cultural limitations. There was still frictions between different teams on ownership of work. This instability was not just in development but also in management originally the company was run from NL then it was taken over by management in US. Management styles are very different between NL and US. It was a great learning experience to see how a successful company was struggling to cope up with time.

Nortel(2001): Again a successful company trying to survive in economic downturn. There was chaos everywhere. The goal seemed to be survival to fight another day. It was tough with major layoffs going on in every division. Moral was low and people spend more time in worrying rather than working.

e-Emphasys(2001-2005): An entrepreneurial venture trying to define itself. Are we Consulting company or a Product company? Should we focus on long term strategy or short term gains? How do we refuse lucrative consulting projects today and just focus on product development for long term benefit? It is amazing how this conflict impacted every decision we made. Basically we just could not decide what we were. Some employees loved consulting and working closely with customers other did not like traveling as consultants and were happy doing product development but for a startup you do not have choice you make your call based on daily needs. The key learning was define your strategy and follow it. You cannot do everything successfully and grow.

SAMSys/Sirit(2005-2006): Another small entrepreneurial venture in RFID space struggling to raise capital and survive to see brighter days. We all could see the hockey stick but the rapid growth in industry was just not happening. Finally we just ran out of money and Sirit took us over. The key lesson was raise capital when you can and not when you need it most.

Microsoft(2006-2008): Amazingly successful company trying to maintain alignment across all its products. Think about it when a new release of Visual studio is planned you have to make sure it is compatible with the latest under development release of SQL, Share Point and Office. When new version of BizTalk is built it is also dependent on SQL, Share Point and Office and Visual studio designer. Did I miss the Windows releases. How do you keep all this in sync. It is a complex problem to solve and I think the company does pretty well to maintain this alignment.

Alignment is really crucial for overall success but I personally think it takes too much time and effort and affects time that can be spent on innovation. I am sure someone higher up in the organization thinks about it. :)

So this brief info about companies I have worked for. What about your companies? What was/is your company like? What does its character look like? Do share with me… Until then enjoy…

Feb 04

Monochronic People

Polychronic People

Do one thing at a time

Do many things at once

Concentrate on the job

Can be easily distracted and manage interruptions well

Take time commitments seriously

Consider an objective to be achieved, if possible

Are low context and need information

Are high context and already have information

Are committed to the job

Are committed to people and human relationships

Adhere religiously to plans

Change plans often and easily

Are concerned about not disturbing others; follow rules of privacy and consideration

Are more concerned with those who are closely related than privacy

Show great respect for private property; seldom borrow or lend

Borrow and lend things often and easily

Emphasize promptness

Base promptness on the relationship

Are accustomed to short term relationships

Have strong tendency to build lifetime relationships

I read an article which had the above table characterizing Americans as Monochonic people and French as Polychronic.

Source: Adapted from Edward T. Hall, “Understanding cultural Differences: Germans, French, and Americans” (Yarmouth, ME: International Press, 1990).

Nov 20

The major difference between industrial and post industrial world is the form of labor. In industrial world labor was more physical in nature whereas in post industrial world it is more mental in nature. Another major difference is in industrial world focus was to provide solutions to consumers with high volumes, low variety and high quality at low cost where as in post industrial world the focus is on providing customized solutions for every consumer with high automation, high speed and flexibility.

Following is comparison of industrial vs Post industrial organizations

Industrial

Post Industrial

Physical Capital dependent; asset and labor intensive

Intellectual Capital dependent, fewer smarter people

Physical Tangible product based

Intangible, high value added services/soln based

Employs many

Employs fewer

Balance sheet focus

Income statement focus

Low net income per person

High net income per person

Scale constraints

Easily scalable

Low Market value per person(MVP)

High MVP

Low internal shareholders

High internal shareholders

 

To succeed in post industrial world everyone needs to find his niche; everyone has to ask what can he provide that no one else can? Any job that can be codified will be converted into software programs, any job that is repetitive will be automated so if you have something creative to offer you will do well else you will have tough time even to survive. So find what you have to add that others don’t.

Good read: World is flat by Thomas Friedman.