FTOTW132 – best links of the week ending 19-October-2014

Prolog

Here are the best links shared on my tweet stream this week.

Best Links

  1. RT @GautamGhosh: The link between curiousity, interest, engagement, attention and learning http://t.co/OGKMv1zOBy ~ brilliant – Original Tweet

  2. RT @rucsb: Why the world’s greatest innovators are optimistic, but skeptical: http://t.co/llxaa8Nqpk http://t.co/5YpEwpsNMd ~ brilliant – Original Tweet

  3. RT @carlzimmer Your skin is packed with odor receptors http://t.co/9HCjcL9Au6 ~ Amazing – Original Tweet

  4. RT @SameerPatel: Here’s what 9,000 years of breeding has done to corn, peaches, and other crops http://t.co/SbRPtwBQjh ~ vv interesting – Original Tweet

  5. RT @AMAnet: Lou Gerstner on corporate reinvention and values. (via @McKQuarterly) #Leadership | http://t.co/CEJbjJTrlz ~ vv insightful – Original Tweet

Epilog

Hope you enjoyed the links? Did you come across any good links you want to share? Please share in the comments below.

References

I use a certain ratings scale for my annotations which are explained here.


I hate peanut butter

I used to hate peanut butter – didn’t  like the smell or the looks of it, so no question of tasting it. Like many other things in my life, this hatred didn’t survive my marriage :) My wife, Priya Raju, made a peanut butter jelly (a.k.a PBJ) sandwich and forced me to eat it. With great reluctance, I obeyed the boss’ orders. Lo and behold, it tasted so good that I was hooked. PBJ  is a regular fixture at the breakfast table to this day.

My tryst with beer was a bit different. The first time I tasted beer was, when I had just started working at my first job in Mumbai. While my colleagues seemed to be enjoying their beer, I didn’t quite like it. One of my colleagues looked at me and said “I can see you don’t like the beer. you have to cultivate a taste for it man.” Exactly as my colleague pointed out, I did start enjoying my beer over time, al though my wife still insists that it tastes like piss :)

At this time, you are well within your rights to wonder where I am going with peanut butter and beer. I have been having a series of discussions about motivation with some of my mentees and this post is a result of those discussions. They unearthed a ton of material around motivation – Extrinsic, Intrinsic, Maslow’s theory, ABC theory, 7 Habits, Purpose, Passion, Learning, Helping Others….  While all these points were accurate, I wanted a radically simpler way of understanding motivation and here is my attempt at that.

Before you start in a job, you have a mental picture of it, mostly drawn from what others say, because you don’t have  first hand experience yet. My first project was a maintenance project and I was very unhappy about it because everyone around me said that I should try to work in a development project and that maintenance projects were boring. With great reluctance I joined my project and much like my Peanut Butter moment, I enjoyed my project a lot after I started working in the project for a few weeks. I learnt a lot about good & bad design, good & bad coding etc. To fix a bug was like cracking a puzzle. To fix a bug and not introduce more bugs was a big challenge. I loved my job.

During my time as a developer, I formed a mental model of a manager as someone that is not very useful – just an unnecessary overhead, I thought. And so I concluded that I never wanted to be a manager. With great reluctance I became a manager because of the organization’s policies. I didn’t like the job of manager at all. And given my mental model of the manager, I sucked at this job. At some point, my work as a leader had become so stressful, that I had lost 10 pounds and was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. After some deep soul searching and with help from my wife and others, I reinvented myself. I started doing better and better as a leader and guess what, I started loving the job of a manager/leader – the Beer moment.

My hatred for exercise is another example of where I moved from hatred to love. So when we succumb to the usual advice that is trotted out – do what you love – we fail to consider the fact that the job we don’t like today could be our Beer moment – we may have to cultivate a taste for it. In other words, it is not necessary that the things that we don’t like today will forever remain that way.  

I found one more signal that our brain gives when we don’t like some aspect of our job (or even the whole job),  we procrastinate. If we focus on what we procrastinate and try to motivate ourselves, we can eliminate our hatred for it. One way is to use Tiny Changes.

There is one more strategy I learnt in my first job. Remember I hated maintenance at first – my maintenance project was at a leading hospital in Mumbai. One of the doctors came to my desk and said she had found a bug and it had to be fixed urgently. Perhaps she sensed my disinterest and gave me a challenge – “fix the bug in one hour and I will buy you lunch”.  That got me going and I fixed the bug in 45 minutes flat. In other words, create a challenge for yourself in a job that you don’t like to do. It could work wonders, like it did for me.

Are there other strategies that you use to game your own brain and get you to do things you don’t like? Please chime away in the comments section.

P.S. A few people had requested me to write a guest post on Meenaks’ blog on C2. I took them up on that request. This post was shared on Meenaks’ C2 blog which is internal to Cognizant today morning. Thanks Meenaks.

 

 


FTOTW131 – best links of the week ending 12-October-2014

Prolog

Here are the best links shared on my tweet stream this week.

Best Links

  1. Dananjaya Hettiaracchi “I see something” toastmasters world championship winner http://t.co/Vgbi0lMufv ~ brilliant /Via @SriniKrishnan-FB – Original Tweet

  2. RT @law_ninja: The Science Behind How Emotions Lead to Smarter Decisions http://t.co/1qvj8kShnl ~ vv insightful – Original Tweet

  3. RT @kaalicharan: Writer Creates “Color Thesaurus” To Help You Correctly Name Any Color Imaginable http://t.co/giqMiYnbrA ~ vv cool – Original Tweet

Epilog

Hope you enjoyed the links? Did you come across any good links you want to share? Please share in the comments below.

References

I use a certain ratings scale for my annotations which are explained here.


FTOTW130 – best links of the week ending 5-October-2014

Prolog

Here are the best links shared on my tweet stream this week.

Best Links

  1. Best advice I ever got http://t.co/nBgeSFXGVy ~ brilliant /Via @SmartBriefOriginal Tweet

  2. The dancing traffic light http://t.co/aLxqLfncbD [1:55] ~ vv cool /Via @JobilogicksOriginal Tweet

  3. /Via @GlobalWorkforce Don’t repeatedly do the Things You Love http://t.co/y9hdVXESzP ~ vv insightful – Original Tweet

Epilog

Hope you enjoyed the links? Did you come across any good links you want to share? Please share in the comments below.

References

I use a certain ratings scale for my annotations which are explained here.


Apple’s Innovation Method – Part 3

Prolog

Please read Part 1 of this series & Part 2 of this series to understand the context better.

When do SIPs not work?

I finished my previous post with this question. Let us pick 2 examples – Tata Nano and Pfizer’s Exubera –  inhaleable Insulin, both of which used a Seemingly Impossible Problem (SIP) strateg. Nano tried to make a car at an unbelievable $2500, whereas Pfizer attempted to make insulin inhaleable, so that millions of insulin-dependent diabetics around the world don’t need to use a painful injection.

Both mentioned customer problems – Nano designers thought that price of the car was the key barrier to adoption of cars and Pfizer thought that diabetics don’t want to prick themselves with a needle almost daily. Then they proceeded to create an SIP strategy around these problems. In both cases, they did manage to make the product and bring it to market. Pfizer’s product was a spectacular failure and the product was discontinued. Nano is not a spectacular failure, but it didn’t reach its potential.

Why?

[Note: While as an Indian I am proud of the fact that an Indian firm made an audacious project happen, I am writing this post from the perspective of someone who researches Innovation]

In the Nano’s case, while price is an important problem, they didn’t quite understand the bigger problems that a two-wheeler owner has – as a two-wheeler owner not too long ago, I have lived with these problems:

1. Where do I park the Nano? I could have afforded the Nano (just a slightly bigger EMI :) ), but where would i have parked the Nano? My two-wheeler was simply slid under the stairs in my house.

2. What about the operating costs? Two-wheelers, even the worst, give a mileage of 50KM per liter of petrol, whereas the Nano under test conditions would give 21 KM per liter. When you add a car’s maintenance costs (changing oil etc), the operating costs of Nano are almost 2-3X of a two-wheeler’s operating costs.

3. Nano designers thought they could try to sell the car to rural consumers, but the roads are so bad that Nano’s build quality didn’t cater to those roads.

In the Exubera case,  while pricking yourself every day is a problem for Diabetics, the Exubera product uncovered problems that the Pfizer designers didn’t take into account:

1. One could get an injection done quickly within minutes and can do it discreetly. When one used the Exubera (look at the pic below), it was cumbersome and couldn’t be done that discreetly. The inhalation also was not that easy.

Pic Courtesy: NYTimes

2. the injectable insulin product has been around for a while and is available easily and inexpensively. Made it harder to convince people to carry a much bigger more cumbersome device and to pay more for the privilege.

Lessons Learnt

When we use an SIP strategy, we have to make sure the SIP is constructed around real problems the potential customers face, as opposed to imagined or not-so-well-researched problems. Apple Cube failed for the same reason – the main innovation was the fanless design (which was of course an SIP at that time). It turns out customers didn’t care that much about the noise from the fans and certainly weren’t willing to pay a lot more premium for that feature.

Apple is successful because they get their  SIPs right more often than not and hence have a string of successes (with a few failures of course).

I am concluding the series with this post. Hope you found it useful?

Epilog

I have done some more work around –  how to convert customer pain points into SIPs, how to identify customer pain points more effectively etc. I will write about that later at an appropriate time.