Foster innovation in your Organization

Here are 5 things that medium-large companies can consider to spur innovation:

1. Make processes less rigid: Most companies have well-defined processes to meet delivery goals of their projects. But, this comes at a cost of “innovation” because employees get “used to” working in processes and therefore do not “look for” innovative ideas. If the processes are not very “rigid”, this will prompt employees to “think outside-the-box”. That will eventually lead to innovation.

2. Employee rotation: Generally careers move in a vertical direction. People get good understanding of the vertical (HR, Finance, Marketing) but have no understanding of how other verticals work. Moving employees in different verticals will put “some” employees out of their comfort zones and force them to learn new skills. During transition, they will question the basics of the department, and that will lead to looking at things from a different perspective.

3. Open culture: Innovation is about thinking out-of-the-box. Support from top management for openness will encourage employees to communicate their “wild” ideas upwards. Some of these “wild” ideas can spur innovation if they reach the right top-management.

4. Networking: Large companies are like “cities” or “towns” where people do not know about each other. Fostering networking (from different departments, locations) will lead to brainstorming which is the seed for innovation.

5. Outside-the-Industry: Look at companies out-of-your-industry to see how they solve problems. Find out if some of those initiatives can be brought into your own industry (with some modifications). For example: Outsourcing started with manufacturing…and then moved over to Software services, finance, and market research.

ciao~

Understanding growth and opportunities

Often we hear about industries / locations growing at a torrid speed and how young entrepreneurs could benefit from that. Its true that growing markets provide good opportunities, but its crucial to understand what the growth “really” means. And equally important is to identify the core competency that the companies should develop in order to enter the market and strengthen their positions.

Some notes:

1. Competition: Growth, often, comes with a fierce competition among new comers who want to tap it and become the leaders. Analyzing how the competitors are positioning themselves would provide a good look at how your company’s strategy should look like.

2. Customers: Most often, it is advisable to position yourself “closer” to the end customers. Of course before you do that, you should first find out who your actual customers are. Understanding how customers could benefit your products, and then tweaking your message accordingly is one key marketing process that should not be neglected.

3. Target Industry: It is important to find out what “part” of the industry is actually growing. Typically, most companies jump onto the bandwagon without realizing that the growth of Industry does not necessarily mean that all “niches” or all “associated industries” would also grow. Remember, your “niche” is your “whole” industry. It may be different from the “industry” as described by the analysts. Let me cite an example: If the retail industry is growing at 5%, it does not mean that “all” retail segments are growing at 5%. Identify what part of retail you belong to…and how fast that segment is growing. More you segment it, better picture you will be able to see.

4. Growth Life: Understand the cyclic nature of the industry/business you want to venture into. Every industry has a cycle and understanding this cycle will enable companies from misunderstanding a temporary uplift vs the permanent (or long term) growth.

5. Alignment: Identify how your core competency fits into the industry to tap its growth opportunity. Remember, do not jump into industries with higher growth because they look “sexy”. Aligning your core competency with the industry’s requirement is essential for success.

6. Adaptability: Understand what your business does and what your core competencies are. Many businesses do not understand what business they are in. This stops them from swiftly adapting to new Industry success factors. Be nimble and flexible to adapt to changing market dynamics. Eg: Big companies tend to loose sight of this and end up loosing business. Examples include Borders vs Amazon, Blockbuster vs Netflix.

ciao~

After Facebook

Why do I want 400 friends in Facebook and hundreds of followers on Twitter?

Facebook wall is “cluttered” with messages that make less sense every passing day. My friends’ list contains 90% acquaintances and maybe 10% friends. The probability of me reading the content on my wall is dependent on the “quality” of the content…not the person. So, its fair to say that the quality of content is more important that the person himself/herself.

Now the question is: If content-quality is more important…then why can’t I see feed from others who are not in my “friends list” but who are still posting good quality material on Facebook. I dont care where that content comes from as long as it “connects” with me. So… what I want is the “intelligent” content that “knows” what I like.

Next question: How do we do that?

Facebook does not do that and will not do that because it goes against its core principle. Maybe I should be able to “follow” a content..or be friends with the content..rather than the person. Maybe a new company/product is required that can understand my profile and stream relevant content to me. I should have the ability to block each piece of content (or rate it). My feedback will make the system smarter. It is a circular loop.

And yes…this product should not start collecting friends. Leave that task to Facebook.

Google…are you listening?

ciao~

New Developments

Its been a while since I wrote something on this blog. Got a bit too much involved in the biz-at-hand and thats why could not keep up with writing new articles regularly. You are not buying it, are you? Ok..ok…I admit..I became lazy. My bad 😦

Now that we are on this topic…all of a sudden I feel that there is something interesting to write about: “Why do majority of bloggers NOT write regularly?” hmmm…I am going to write about this in my next posting.

For now, let me update everyone about what I was doing, where I was and everything else…

So, after the b-school, I moved to Overland Park, KS (yes…Kansas) to work for a company called Embarq. They provided me a great opportunity to work in the CEO’s office as an internal consultant. (Yes…I worked in CEO’s Office. Dan Hassey was the CEO of Embarq at that time. And currently he is the CEO of Sprint, trying to turn-around that company. Good Luck Dan..I know you can do it). Coming out of the b-school, I got this great opportunity to work in Dan’s office…heck ya…I will move to Timbuktu for that 🙂

Things happened fast in Overland Park. I was full-time employed there. Enjoyed it. Also, I was leading blogoxy.com (which I founded while in School). But good times do not last for ever. n boom…here came the acquisition of Embarq and the layoff (Oct 2009).

This was the time when DSPs and Ad Exchanges started to pop up. Ad Networks started to look so much a “thing-of-past”(To become an ad network was our revenue model for blogoxy) and therefore it was time to say good-bye to blogoxy. Thanks to Vimeo, you can take a look at its video pitch.

So, job is gone. blogoxy.com is gone. Now what to do?

Instead of doing an intensive job search, I decided to start something full-time (remember, blogoxy.com was always a part-time gig: In school and then at work). So, I contacted few of by buddies and we came across the idea of the food business (in India). The country was growing at 9-10% growth rate, middle class was booming, malls were flooded with people, retail revolution was undergoing…how could I not join the bandwagon? So, in Nov’09, I packed my bags and moved to India with a hunger to open a food retail chain in the country. I and my good friend Nimai got together to start our company NIMSAN RETAIL and the brand: Mr. China.

Mr. China:

NIMSAN RETAIL opened its first outlet on Dec 28th’09 in GIP Mall @Noida in Delhi. Yes, I landed in New Delhi on Nov 7th and we opened the outlet on Dec 28th. It really does not take more than 2 months to open a food outlet (knock-knock all brick-n-motor folks). Coming form the Technology world, and planning to open a food chain, we automated our entire business processes.

The company became profitable by May’10 (in 4-5 months). We told ourselves…great…now lets expand it. N here came the roadblock. It is very difficult to raise funding in India (if you do not come from a rich family) for a traditional business. Yes, maybe we could have raised funding for a tech company, but for a food business…NO…there was no money. So, we decided to go with the FOCO model (Franchise Owned, Company Operated) for expansion. Basically, what this meant was that the franchisee would be the investor and NIMSAN would be the operational partner (our core competency). We started meeting investors (franchisees) but by Aug’10, the retail cycle took a dip and we barely made any profit in the next 2 months.

At that time, we decided to give this business some more incubation time before expansion. Our cash reserve was running very low, so we also decided to move out of the operations of Mr China, and to look for new businesses elsewhere. We got a highly seasoned hospitality industry veteran involved with us and I moved to the US in search of new opportunities. Yes, Mr China is alive..and is doing good now 🙂

Groperty.com

Last month, I and Nimai started a new venture: Groperty.com (Group + Property). Yes, you guessed it right: It is the group buying of new apartments/flats in India (Once again..same logic…economy is growing…real estate is growing…yada yada yada).

Future prospects of Mr. China look good. We will open new outlets and most likely will move into the processed food business. But I am now fully into an investor role there. Groperty.com is still a baby…and we are trying to gauge the market demand for this kindof service in the country.

Will keep you posted with the latest. Ciao.