One morning a team member walked into my open office, “Rajesh, I need 5 minutes to discuss something.” “Discuss” and “Something,” meaning the joy in seeking to understand the unknown, a yearning to unravel what and why. I ushered Shahid in and we got talking. He wanted to write a book on a technical subject, about which he was passionately curious about. All ears, I listened and we agreed that it addressed his deep inner belief to learn and explore this topic, and that I would happily support some flexible work hours. A year later, Shahid’s book – Roaming in Wireless Networks–was published by McGraw Hill, and continues to sell for USD 116/-; he is officially a guru in the industry. The book turned out to be a strong reference book on the subject, also helped our business as his voice earned him a seat at every table, sometimes even allowing for him to chair said meetings!
That being said, let’s dive deeper into some of these keys aspects and characteristics in order to better understand our learning/teaching model as well as the type of people we look to work with within the business.
Monsoons, are generally dull and boring. I had to keep seeing the beauty in things, the beauty in nature that surrounded me, as I hopped, skipped and splotched along the puddled, graveled road. My morning walk during my holiday break, in a remote town in India.
The sky, a giant canvas that blotted grey ink in twenty shades, the trees swaying like the fans meant for Gods. As the morning light peeped in and out, the vastness of the paddy fields, foliage and sounds of the birds, a perfect pantomime that swathed another 20 shades of green. And as though that wasn’t enough, the small town that this was, was peppered with color that even the Gods would be blinded by.
I’m in Japan, at the back of a table amongst the wise people of Oceans 13, listening and learning. What seems like eternity and several slides later from one on our own team, the sharpest of the clients I have known, and quiet all this while, springs out of his chair like a jack in the box and takes over. He shifts track and focuses on a business problem he has now, one that will peak in 2 years when a major sporting event stages the world.
An “Aha!” moment from the vastness of that hour of canter and banter. This is Japan. One rarely sees such public display of emotion.
As I hurriedly scribble some notes, my mind races back to 2003, a time when I led the Professional Services Consulting Practice at Agilent. Anderson Consulting had just turned into Accenture and they had launched this advertisement that stuck in mind – “I Am Your Idea. I Won’t Stay Hot Forever,” written on a cup of coffee. How true, in the realm of business and innovation.
Credit: Y&R, New York for Accenture
Timing is everything, as I’ve mentioned numerous times. Time is the only constant. But what relevance does it hold regarding that “Aha” moment that was just experienced?
New opportunities arise from innovation driven by the realization of a need, a problem. The Web – there is great advantage in being one of the first few to monetize an idea. In 2003, Google AdSense brought an explosion of ad-driven content via websites and blogs. In 2008, it was the app store for Apple’s IPhone, followed shortly after by Google’s Android store.
This trend has been graphed into what is known as Technology/Innovators S curve.(click here to learn more). I have adapted this to what I call the Business S Curve
The Business S Curve, shows timing is everything; and the why and how to ensure we keep ideating and moving an opportunity along.
It is said that smart people ask high impact questions and discover the pain and needs? An opportunity is sensed at time = T0. “Problem Discovery/Opportunity” in the illustration above. This is when we sense the warmth of an idea or a problem. Maintaining/increasing that discovered warmth requires rooted passion and an endless pit of belief, that which deploys a complex algorithm that includes validation, initiative and problem solving at every turn – a smooth road never came to those seeking success; a phase I call the chasm of business. Many don’t make it across this chasm for a number of reasons. The two most important ones I find are:
The Idea or problem isn’t “hot” enough: it lacks the right amount of impact. It is not a priority, perhaps a ‘pipe dream’, one not endorsed by management. There lacks a sense of Validation
Someone outpaced you– they pinpointed the matter before you, potentially maintaining better/consistent engagement and Stickiness.
Interestingly, if you look into the sales funnel, you will notice that 60-70% of your opportunities lie in this very business chasm– the Qualification and Development Phase. Opportunities can stay there forever or drop off steeply. Alternately, if you manage to maintain the essence of time and pursue the pace, you will eventually gain that ‘stickiness’, in turn earning the right to put your proposal.
A common mistake I’ve observed sales people doing is jumping straight to ‘solution mode’ within minutes of unearthing the Client statement or a problem while still standing within this chasm period. A right to the solution is not handed to anyone, it has to be earned. There is a time for everything.
17,000 BCE – The birth of trade, barter trade to be precise. Trade flourished as clans travelled the 7 seas to distant lands, carrying with them precious metals, stones, silk etc. to be exchanged for what them and their people needed; no monetary instruments. At best, and eventually more common above the exchange of goods, were precious metals (gold/silver) and stone as payment. Eventually governments formed and their regulation on trade birthed the currency we know today. As of today, we have caught a glimpse of what is to come with the rise of the unregulated (now) cryptocurrency – bitcoin, litecoin, ethereum… Not as many transactions, yet a promise.
Trade practices have always fascinated me, and travelling to various countries allows me to look, listen and learn more about it. Often, I find, one story is bound to another.