Tag Archives: management

Benefits of saying ‘No’ , when you really want to say ‘No’

In the year 2000, I prepared for a presentation for the senior management of an organisation on information strategy planning. In order to impress the audience, I stuffed the presentation with ‘cut and paste’ jargons which even me, the presenter did not understand well. It was the last hurdle, before signing a big contract and the audience included the senior most stakeholders from the customer’s side. I started the presentation well, could manage most of the questions from the audience, and when everything was going as per the script, i walked backward and hit the podium, and it fell down with a big noise, along with my self confidence. After that I could not utter a single word, and the rest of the presentation looked totally alien to me, under pressure. We lost the mega order because of me. That was a great and the most expensive lesson I learned ever in my life, ‘Never present anything which You have not experienced either positively or negatively’, and that great lesson helped me to sail through the corporate consulting world, in a successful manner during the past decade.
Temptations are the acid test of your convictions. Yesterday I had a meeting with a multi national customer, who wants me to teach them project risk management and project financing. It is very tempting to say ‘Yes’ to this assignment. Even if I know these concepts, I have not practised them extensively. The financial package is tempting, so is the temptation to prepare another ‘cut and paste’ presentation. Just manage one more show, thats it. If I say ‘Yes’ to it, I may be able to manage it, and at the same time I will never get a standing ovation from the audience at the end of the show.
I do not want to start an assignment knowing that I will not be able to do well. So, I am saying ‘NO’ to it, and the benefits of that ‘NO’ are;
1) I know that I have a reputation to loose in the industry, and the risk of loosing that reputation is managed.
2) I will not be cheating myself by pretending enthusiasm about the concepts, I am not that enthusiastic.
3) Every failure pushes me into a bout of professional depression, and I take almost a month to get out it. Avoid it proactively.
4) That client may come back to me with another assignment in the area of my current strengths. A failure can shut the doors to that client forever.
5) It takes integrity for not repeating the mistakes..and I feel good about it.
6) My business partner feels bad about the lost business. He would have felt worser with a failed assignment.
7) I am walking my talk by advocating the power of failing fast, than failing at the last moment.
8) Better health
9) Better work life balance
10) More time to focus on the important things in life
Still at times I say ‘Yes’ when I really want to say ‘No’, and as an afterthought I say ‘No’. That is an improvement, which needs further improvement. I am thrilled.

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10 points for those who are transitioning from project to product environments

Here are 10 key points to help those who are transitioning from projects to products

1) In projects, we deliver to one client, where as products get delivered to a market segment.

2) Inorder to build great products, we need people of the highest technical capabilities, where as in projects, the technical capabilities of people may not be the highest. This difference is very clear when we compare product companies to project delivery organizations.

3) Product teams, very often have to deal with millions of lines of legacy code, if they are working in very large established products. In startups, the challenges are different.

4)  In project based organizations, very often the teams may be following waterfall model for software development, where as most of the product companies have either transitioned or transitioning to agile.

5) In waterfall models, the predominant managerial style is command and control, and at the same time the desired managerial style in product based organizations is that of a servant leader. Some product companies promote ‘manager as a host’ styles, where everyone else is trated as a guest, and the manager ensures that they are comfortable. A variant of servant leadership.

6) Since the quality of engineering talent is the best in product companies, it is absurd to tell tell them how to do things. Explain the scope of work, and give them the freedom to choose the best approach to accomplish it. It is a kind of leading from behind, whereas in project based organizations, the predominant style is leading from the front.

7) In product companies, the requirements evolve over a peiod of time. Requirements are allowed to grow. In project based organizations, the focus is on freezing the requirements.

8) In majority of the product based organizations, test automation is in a higly matured state. Without test automation it is very difficult to achieve the desired quality levels, especially with voluminous code base.

9) In project based organizations, it is very difficult to justify the investment on test automation, becuase projects are unique and very often sigle time assignments. The predominant testing style is manual testing.

10) In product teams, the manager is only as good as his team. In project based organizations, the managers tend to position them as better than the rest.

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#notestoself #fifthdiscipline – Seven learning disabilities

  1. I am my position ( I am experiencing this when moving teams from command and control mode to self organizing teams)
  2. The enemy is out there (Two most widely used words among project managers are ‘but’ and ‘they’, based on my interactions with 6000 of them. Majority believes that they are perfect, and the problem is out there.)
  3. The illusion of taking charge. (proactive Vs reactive. Very often we mistake pro activeness as aggressive reactions  )
  4. Fixation on events (Yes, we find some event as the trigger for everything, and fail to understand complex causes contributing to the effect)
  5. The parable of the boiled frog. (The problems aggravates gradually)
  6. The delusion of learning from experience (Very often the effect happens outside the span of focus of the cause, hence we fail to learn from experience)
  7. The myth of the management team (All management teams fumble when they try to resolve complex issues)

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#notestoself #fifthdiscipline #metanoia #adaptive and #regenerative #learning

Metanoia : refers to shift in mind, paradigm shift

Learning has lost its central meaning in contemporary usage. “Yes, We learned everything about it in the training program”, This is something I keep hearing after my training / coaching programs.As far as I am concerned, communicating and taking in information is only distantly related to real learning. Am I making a mistake by making the participants believe that they know the topics, before they experience it in the real world. Could be. Real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human. Through learning we recreate ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do. Through learning we re-perceive the world world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life.

Adaptive or survival learning – A catching up process, certifications etc, to remain employable

Generative learning – Learning to achieve mastery, resulting in the capability to create.

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From outsourcing hub to product development hub

WordPress disqualified my earlier blog with more than 1000 followers and nearly 300000 visits. This was due to violation of their policies. To the best of my knowledge, it was unintentional. Everything is for good. That gives me an opportunity to blog afresh, and this time more focused towards management excellence starting at a personal level and then moving to team and organization.

Sincere management rethinking is required to move from the status of followers to leaders, especially when the third world is becoming the hub of product development. This calls for rapid innovation based on serious introspection of the current statuesque based on compliance and conformance.  Individuals and teams need the space to take some risks and cut loose. It is risky, and one can fail. The systems must be conducive for risk taking. Questions must be asked about the validity of our conventional processes, which will not hold good for the new era. Fast failures and learning must be promoted. I know that this is not easy, and at the same time, without these the transformation from project space to product space will be incomplete.


I did not study well when I was in the university, and ever since I got my Bachelor’s degree, I was continuously studying books and learning from my on the job experiences. Some of the books when I read them last, was slightly ahead of their time, at least for this part of the world (India). Another possibility is the fact that I was not matured enough to understand the meaning between the lines when I read them first. Now, after three decades of work as team member, manager, profit centre head, freelancer, entrepreuner, agile practirioner, project management trainer, consultant, husband and father, I think I am ready to probe the inner meaning of the print.  So I have started going through them once again, with a research mindset, and I check the applicability of the concepts in the present day. I will be sharing my journey through the pages of the books in my personal library and the thoughts it triggers through this blog of mine.



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