Wednesday, September 07, 2016
Tuesday, December 09, 2014
While we often talk about successes and failures, I started to think if and when I have experienced a real feeling of failure! It was difficult to get any remembrance of such a feeling!
Before you jump with your guns aimed at me, believe me I have gone thru more than my share of problems in both personal and professional life (e.g. trying to improve my communication, picking up a new methodology etc.).
The only reason why in spite of having several failures and some mega ones at times, this feeling of failure does not come in is because of some key aspects that are ingrained in several of us. The attribute of problem solving and the ability to put an honest effort on everything that we are involved in!
Fixing things, finding solutions rather than focusing on the obstacles is an important element of problem solving. An analytical mind that is so crucial for the role of a software engineer irrespective of the function that we contribute in, plays a part too.
For me the approach to problem solving was best summed by none other than Albert Einstein, when he said “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it”. There cannot be a better way to summarize the importance of understanding the problem and then going on to solve it.
There are various strategies for problem solving, one or more are used amongst a list of several like abstraction, analogy, hypothesis testing, root cause, divide and conquer etc. The key here is to have an aptitude for structured thinking and an approach that allows one to attack the problem in different ways.
The second is well and truly a personal trait that many of us are able to demonstrate when we are focused on or are passionate about something that we want to achieve. The challenge is to be able to repeat this in a consistent manner on many more things that one is working on and the results become dramatically different. This is also driven by the environment, the culture in which one finds oneself either at work or in their personal sphere.
An environment where there is all round excellence, there are a vast majority of colleagues who are putting in an honest effort, the ability to seek support and keep at it is much more. A high performance work ethic revolves around this peer buddy mechanism to bring the right level of application from each individual and therefore better all round results.
Where this honest effort becomes crucial is when things don’t go right, when the outcomes take longer than expected, when the results are not in line with the expectations. It helps reinforce the thought process that one needs to keep trying different problem solving strategies and the outcomes will begin to appear favorable. It allows the person the benefit of not getting bogged down easily and therefore letting one to ask oneself if they are continuing to put in their best effort each day. The peer buddy mechanism then plays its part perfectly well here. The feeling that one is putting their best effort each day is extremely empowering, it provides a great deal of confidence and further enhances chances of success.
So there goes, focus on the problems at hand, understand the problem, apply one or more of the strategies for problem solving and see to it that you are putting in your best effort, each day, consistently!
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
While reading this wonderful story again about how Sainsbury changed the name of their bread from Tiger bread to Giraffe bread based on feedback apparently from a 3.5 year young customer, it occurred to me, we as a team do several things that go on to define how we treat our internal and external customers and partners. <more about the Sainsbury story here>.
There are many such stories about organizations like Ritz Carlton and other small, medium and large enterprises going that extra mile to make the customers feel special. In majority of the cases, one could almost see a pattern of no real investments or $ spent but just a little amount of situational awareness, quick decision making, acknowledging the problems and doing what it takes to solve the problem on part of the people involved.
As a unit our vision clearly articulates the importance of being a "respected partner", while a good deal of this respect comes through demonstration of clear thought process, knowledge and content on the relevant topics and the ability to apply these in the context of the business problems, a large part of it is also about how we deal with our customers (internal as well as external).
Sound customer service largely emanates from the most important enabler at an individual level and that is empowerment. The more empowered we feel the more we can do as individuals for our customers. The decision making is faster, the decisions are made with the customer at the core of it, the alignment of goals/objectives is then well and truly complete and comprehensive.
In our roles, each one of us has contributions to make from the perspective of how our customers feel about the interactions they have with us. Our contributions can range from being able to direct our teams to taking specific actions on the ground, all intended to make our customers feel delighted and see value in several ways like:-
1. Being proactive to make the customer feel we are as eager as them to get them the solution
2. Making efforts to understand the problem at hand, get the big picture and evolve the value dimension
3. Being aware of the timelines to get to the solution, since it will impact the customer or their business
4. Reaching out to our network for solutions, believe me we seldom encounter "new" problems!
5. Ensuring relevance of the solution, reviews and quick feedback are a good way to see things are on track
6. Involving ourselves in taking the solution forward…Practice, don't just preach!
There are more ways that each one of us practice every single working day. I am sure the most important stakeholder – our customer, does not get those vow moments just like that. There is a great deal of hard work, meticulous planning and individual effort that goes into making it happen. While we continue to enhance our processes, tools and techniques, people need an equal amount of attention as a key to creating these vow moments, not as a one off but an ongoing behavior. The culture then is an outcome of repeated successes and definite processes that are part of the work ethic and peoples habits.
I am certain you have your own customer service stories, several of these would rank and rate amongst the best in the world. Do respond with those details and post the stories that can go on to inspire us all!
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
While I frequently write and speak about technology and the manner in which it has helped improve things in several aspects of our lives, there are things that I feel also could be tagged as negatives arising out of either a wrong or an unwise adoption of it.
While communication technology and devices, including smart phones have created near unlimited options for us to stay connected, collaborate and keep ourselves and others up to date on the latest, these could also mean some forms of distractions when one is really required to focus hard on the task at hand.
Do you ever feel the urge to often check for new incoming mails on your email? Do you often get “ping’ed” by colleagues on the messenger or communicator while you are in the middle of something important? Do you often feel it necessary to respond to these chat requests even though you are in another call?
The distractions can be of several kind and could have a clear impact on work especially those days and times when you are trying to close on something important. It could lead to meetings being ineffective, where while someone is making important points, few attendees are busy checking their Blackberry’s and iPhones for the latest new arrivals on their mail or even tweeting the most recent updates to one and all!
In this context one small piece of news caught my attention few days back, where a restaurant in LA is giving 5% discount on the bill for those who agree to keep their phones and digital devices away at the door[Los Angeles Times].
Something for us to give a thought at the workplace too, are there too many of these distractions creeping in to hold people from having meaningful conversations, bringing in the right amount of attention and focus?
Friday, July 06, 2012
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
The fact that women rule is evident every day, everywhere and every time. In my case for example, I was supposed to write this blog yesterday evening/night. Two women who rule my life did not desire so and there you go I had to scribble this today morning in 10 minutes between 2 update meetings with the team!
I look around and am filled with admiration for the talent and application that women around me demonstrate day in and day out. They are masters when it comes to multitasking – several of my women colleagues have to juggle multiple responsibilities and the ease with which they manage to do this without ever losing focus is not only commendable but also something worth emulating.
They can listen better than their male counterparts – several examples come to mind where women managers around me have shown tremendous patience and listening skills to put another colleague to ease in tough situations.
There are many situations @ work that require one to look for alternatives and options, I have always found women colleagues far more open to new suggestions and options and this I believe is a wonderful trait that can help one thrive in today’s tough times.
Impact and outcome are amongst my more commonly used words, they mean a lot in today’s business environment, I find women a lot more focused on the impact and outcome of their initiatives and this is something they are able to demonstrate without having to try hard.
I associate a proactive approach with the basic tenets of professionalism, a large number of my women colleagues are able to demonstrate pro-activeness in a manner that would make it seem like its second nature to them.
Being well organized and having a plan in place is many a times as good as getting half the work done, even before you begin! Our women colleagues have a tendency to look at every task, assignment and plan ahead and organize things upfront and that helps them get ahead even before the task is begun.
A strong character and will are fundamental for success today. Several of my women colleagues, demonstrate both with ease and stand out for their mental strength & toughness.
I could go on and on, but must stop here, there are few women colleagues waiting for me in the room next door for my next meeting, I got to go – Women rule…let there be no doubt! J