Monday, June 27, 2011

Some notes on our People Philosophy

Here are some notes on our people philosophy that came-up in my recent conversations at work.

Firstly, No we are not really worried about people leaving. The negative impact of people leaving is exaggerated. It is mostly that we cannot take the rejection.

Mostly, it does not make a difference as to who comes or goes, our experience has been that it has never been that coming-in of someone or going-out of someone has had any transformational impact. In the end there is a lot of grind that even the most talented people have to go through to produce worthwhile results.

Mostly the importance of a person is exaggerated by us and more so by the person himself or herself. Mostly it's illusion.

But some people make more of a difference than others. You can see them as the Steve Jobbs, or Nandan Nilekani, or Ray Ozzie, or Warren Buffet for the company. They are hard to replace. Hard to replace by either other people, process or technology.

Incidentally these are people who work for the love of it.

We don't have to worry about retaining or driving people. Some people are better gone. Some people contribute more when they stay out of the office than when they are at work. We are not interested in monitoring the hours people clock in.

We don't mean to disrespect people. We don't mean to undervalue people. Neither do we intend to waste our time driving reluctant employees. We intend to understand how things work and who makes what difference. very very clearly. We intend to know what is best about a person and how we can bring that to the fore.

We have more to gain from improving our Knowledge, Brand, Production System, Ecosystem, Culture etc. than we have from adding or subtracting people.

Lastly when we work with people, we have to understand that we are working with lives, that we are working with manifestations of the divine. So we need to act with respect and discretion.

Quality & Meditation

Quality and meditation are one and the same thing. Qualtiy brings about meditation. Only those in mediation can bring about a quality outcome.
One of the ways to know a person in mediation, is the lack of hurry in him or her.
Big dramatic initiatives lack balance.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Karma Yog

One of the greatest lessons I have learnt in my life is to pay as much attention to the means of work as to its end. ..and it appears to me that all the secret of success is there; to pay as much attention to the means as to the end...With the means all right, the end must come.

-Swami Vivekanand

The more we work on our methods and systems the more likely we are to achieve our objectives and ideals, whether they are to provide opportunities to deserving young people, supporting entrepreneurs, contributing to the society, contributing to our own growth and that of our people, creating the capacity to build world class products, building a place of great learning and innovation or spreading prosperity around us.

I think this is the single most important thing of all that we do at work.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The CEO in a corner

The CEO must lead change. The CEO must lead the charge. The CEO must articulate the vision. The CEO must be the company's face to the world outside. The CEO must be available to his people. The CEO must know the numbers. Quality is number one job of the CEO. The CEO must go see for himself. The CEO must build future leaders. The CEO has to define the future for the company. The E in the CEO stands for execution. The CEO is the CMO (Chief Marketing officer)...

Management literature abound with such advice. But, even an idiot can tell you that taking all this advice seriously and together would be a sure recipe for failure. At best the CEO following such advice ends up inflating his sense of self worth to absurd levels. Making for some good entertainment for the rest of the team. At the worst, he ends up turning people around him into Pygmies. Making failure certain.

The CEO has to do what he has to do and leave the rest to others. Sometimes, this may mean confining oneself to a corner so that work can get done.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sometime for the love of it

Simplifying a business is the correct objective. It can make for faster growth, lower costs and greater peace of mind. But some businesses are complex. Tech businesses e.g. by their very nature are complex.
Likewise, establishing a business on enduring foundation is correct (it can simplify a lot of things). But there are rapid changes a tech business has to deal with.

The world cannot survive only on chewing gums and coke. Some not-so-simple things have to be done. Some not-so-profitable businesses have to be run. For the love of it, for the value it brings to society. And it has to be done in a business format, in a profitable way, so that it does not depend on charity (money from people who sell chewing gums at good margins) for survival.