How your hiring abilities impact voting decisions

Posted in Decision, Hiring

It is that time of 5-year period when you have to make a political choice. The good news is that more people are making this choice. The polling figures so far shows around 20-40% increase in the polling. There is a sense of urgency in the people. However, many people are still struggling to decide who they can vote as the best candidate.

I want to compare how this decision making process is similar to the decision making during hiring process. Hiring process typically involves a panel of 4-5 people with a hiring manager. Many of us have been part of such panels. The outcome of hiring process is a boolean – Yes or No. You either select or reject a candidate.

If you have been on interview panels for long enough, you may not be surprised to know that there is at least one person who actually ends up with a “maybe” vote. And many companies support this “maybe” decision by having a 3-pointer scale or much worse, a 5-pointer scale. The worst is when the entire panel declares a “maybe” decision resulting in “on-hold” candidates.

Interview

Now if you are an interviewer who replies with a clear Yes or No, you should not have much trouble in deciding your candidate for this election. It is possible that you have done a detailed research, asked references, attended a campaign or just used your gut.

If you are an interviewer who often replies with a “maybe”, you are in trouble. What do you do when you are the hiring manager and you are forced to select or reject a candidate? Do you try to find more information about the candidate? Do you discuss with other interviewers? Do you search their web presence? Do you do background verification? Do you talk to references to know about their past work? You will probably do anything that will help you to make a firm decision.

There are many things that you can do if you want to make a good choice. The below quote by Jim Collins is applicable to both hiring and voting.

“Get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus”

Note to my international friends and followers – India follows multi-party democracy with 6 national parties, 47 state parties and 1563 other parties.

The Elephant in the room

Posted in Leadership

During my childhood days, like many of you, I have followed the Indian parable of six blind men describing an elephant. Each blind person thinks of individual elephant part as something else. John Godfrey Saxe has written a beautiful poem about this short-sightedness.

elephant

This is a great challenge many organizations are facing where very few people are able to visualize customer needs, product vision and what to build and map them together into a cohesive picture that can be communicated, built and delivered to the customer.

Now think of what leadership is about? In simple terms it is about three things -

1. Having a vision
2. Ability to communicate the vision
3. Get people around you to build the vision

Mapping this to the elephant story, a leader, firstly, should be able to have a holistic view of the product and service. Creating this vision is easier said than done. Secondly, a leader should be able to communicate the relationship between parts and the whole. Since multiple teams and people work on smaller parts, the chances of mismatch are higher. Like how each blind person thins about different parts of an elephant.

Lastly, as the team starts building the product, a leader should be able to identify the deviations from vision and guide the team to build the right product – be able to call elephant an elephant.

This is no way different from creating the cohesive picture that I described earlier. I guess this leadership is what many organizations need today.

What do you want to be in your career?

Posted in Analytics, People

Career development is a challenging problem to solve for most individual themselves as well as managers on behalf of their team. Many individuals find it difficult to clearly define their career aspirations and what opportunities or possibilities are available to them. One of my friends after attending a staff meeting of several managers said – “It is tough for all managers to get career development goal from their team members and I was thinking it was just me.”

This issue compounds for managers as they have to think on their team’s behalf – what is best for them and what aspiration do they have. The message is simple – you have to think about your own career development choices. But how? I created a short survey to find out more about people’s career aspiration and what the trend is.

I need your help in filling a 7-question survey on career aspiration. Here is the link https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GG36D2J

career

If it takes more than 5 minutes, I owe you a beer. Make sure to leave a comment :)

Update: Thanks to everyone for filling the survey. The current average time for filling the survey is around 3 minutes. No pressure :)

How LinkedIn is reinventing itself

Posted in Analytics, Hot, Ideas, SoMe

Linkedin used to be a quiet place where professionals would go to update their profile, make new connections or know about what their friends and peers do from a professional point of view.

What’s new

This is all changing. These days I do notice lot more activities from Linkedin. LinkedIn is sending three types of mails to me on a regular basis.

1. Linkedin message on who viewed your profile.

2. LinkedIn pulse on new articles recommendation on Linkedin.com

3. Linkedin updates on job changes and work anniversaries of your connections. This allows you to stay up-to-date on your connections and “say congrats” much like “say happy birthday” feature of Facebook.

These changes are very interesting and my visits to Linkedin have somewhat increased. I never considered it to be a place to post my new blog articles but Linkedin is now 3rd topmost traffic driver to my website. Instead of a burst in traffic, it provides a steady traffic flow to my blog.

LinkedIn-Logo

What is driving these changes?

So, the real question is what is driving these changes at Linkedin? Let us try to look at some important statistics.

- Linkedin has around 60 million users
- 85% use the free account
- 50% spend 0-2 hours/week

It is clear that Linkedin needs to make people spend more time with them if they want to be able to monetize a huge 85% of their user base. The question then is what should they do? Let us look at some more statistics.

- The 3 most helpful Linkedin features, based on recent statistics are – “who’s viewed your profile (70%)”, “people you may know (65%)” and groups (60%)
- Consider trends in social media. According to Pew Research, 78% of Facebook users mostly see news when on Facebook when they have logged into Facebook for other reasons. They are consuming news against their original intention. This is significant. It reflects human ability to pay more attention to news when it is coming from a known/trusted source.

Connecting data to Linkedin strategy

With this information, it is easy to see that Linkedin needs to do something that will help drive traffic to Linkedin.com. Providing regular mail updates on who’s viewed your profile makes sense. This is what their users have found most useful.

Using the latest trend in the way people consume news on social channels is an excellent way of reinventing itself. LinkedIn is focusing a lot on providing stories and news articles. This will allow them to move to monetization via sponsored stories.

The third piece of the puzzle is to engage users by making them do something when they visit Linkedin.com. This leads to higher page time and can be translated into various monetization and growth strategies. Endorsing your connection and “say congrats” is a good start.

However, this is also an area where much is left to be done. And I think Linkedin needs some sort of user experience refresh to allow them to take this engagement to a higher level.

What makes us feel good about our work?

Posted in Hiring, People

In December last year I started writing a blog post “All employees want to feel special” that I am yet to finish. However, I came across TED video from Dan Ariely that talks about what motivates us to work?. I want to mention some of them that I have experienced and noticed them at work to work!

happy_at_work

1. Seeing results of your work and customer appreciation is a great motivator. Knowing that your work is helping someone, increases your own performance.

2. “Ignoring the performance of people is almost as bad as shredding their effort before their eyes,” Ariely says. “The good news is that adding motivation doesn’t seem to be so difficult. The bad news is that eliminating motivation seems to be incredibly easy, and if we don’t think about it carefully, we might overdo it.” I concur.

3. We erroneously think that other people will ascribe the same value to our own work as we do. This is specially true when we do work that involves good amount of effort. Many a times, outcome fetches higher value.

4. Positive reinforcement (from managers?) about our abilities increases our performance. A challenge state and not threat state helps with better results.

5. Finally, as Donald Driver, a noted football player and NY Times best selling author noted something very interesting in his article on “Why Do Kids Read What They Read?”

Kids read what they read to have fun!

I guess this feeling of having fun is independent of age, location, environment and many other things.

How to effectively convert product pitch into user interface

Posted in Ideas

Do you find yourself spending and wasting lot of time in designing that perfect user interface for your startup idea? Well, here is an idea that can help shorten the process.

1. Practice your story

Yes. The better you become telling your story the better you will be able to create user experience for your initial set of customers. Trying to design user interfaces too soon before you are comfortable with the pitch and able to explain the pitch easily to your customers will most likely result in a wasted effort.

2. Explore several themes

Instead of trying to design the user interface from scratch, try to look at several themes that are already available. You can look at some of the bootstrap themes to explore how well you can create workflow and conversations with your customers. And do not lose sight on first time user experiences because being a startup you are not dealing with many upgrade customers but many first time customers. There will be time for designing user interface for expert users only after you have your initial set. http://firsttimeux.tumblr.com/ is a good resource to help you know good and bad experiences.

Customers of multiple products – a disjoint problem

Posted in Ideas

As companies expand their product and services, it is not uncommon to have customers owning and using multiple product and services from the same company. However, lack of customer understanding and knowing which product and services customers own and how they use them, is hurting many companies to provide higher customer satisfaction. I have one such story to share and what companies can do to improve.

About Airtel
Airtel is the largest provider of mobile telephony and second largest provider of fixed telephony in India, and is also a provider of broadband and subscription television services. It does $7 billion in revenue and employs more that 21,000 people.

I have bought three products from them. A post paid mobile connection, a pre-paid mobile connection and a land-line/broadband. I recently had the need to call customer care for all three products. Guess what, they do not understand me as a customer of broadband if I call from a mobile connection. Similarly, if I call from my Airtel land-line, they cannot help me for a query on my mobile connection issue. I have to call from each of the specific connection to get support for the specific connection.

Now, some of you would say this is how the process and teams within companies are organized. But I disagree. This needs to change.

customer-disjoin

Missing Opportunities

If companies see customers as disjointed, they are missing out on significant opportunities.

1. Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is higher if customers can use a single channel to communicate back to the company and the company value them for all the products that they have bought. A customer should be platinum based on the total business value to the company and not product-wise Simple.

2. Product Innovation 

It is very expensive to build new products for new customer segments because the cost of new customer acquisition is very high. Very few companies are successful with this. When customers use multiple products, it is easy for companies to build and promote newer product and services that addresses multiple needs and build a better ecosystem.

3. Customer lifetime value optimization

One of the things that we do at Adobe is to consider integrating other Adobe products with our own. It not only creates a better workflow for customers but also creates more opportunities to cross-sell other Adobe products. This ultimately results in higher customer lifetime value.

Are you treating customers as customer of your company or of a specific product?

Guiding principles on work-life balance

Posted in People

There are umpteen articles available on work-life balance but the latest one from HBR is bang on target. The five themes mentioned in the article can be effectively used as guiding principles to achieve a good work-life balance.

1. Define success for yourself – This finally boils down to how much time you want to spend with your family and kids versus achieving your professional goals.

2. Selective travel or relocation for work – If you have family, this is tricky. If your partner is working, it can be complicated. Can you move easily for the next promotion or work opportunity?

3. Manage technology usage – Do you want to access office mails while having dinner with your family? Are you available 24×7 for your work?

4. Build support networks - This is applicable both at work as well as home. I guess this cannot be compromised on both the fronts if you want to lead a quality life and achieve professional success.

5. Collaborating with your partner - Again this is mandatory. If you are not collaborating with your partner in decisions that impact them, you may not have a partner for long!

 

Snapshot of Wearable Device Market

Posted in Hot, Technology

The biggest trend from recently concluded CES-2014 is that the wearable device market is exploding. There are new entrants from everywhere and their rate of arrival is perhaps greater than the growth of the market itself.

I wanted to get my head around who’s who in the market and get a single page snapshot to keep track of majority of players in this area. The below picture is an attempt to capture existing and upcoming players.

WearableDeviceSnapshot

The wearable market is broadly divided into fitness, sports and health and there is a big concentration of players in fitness and sports sectors. Some brands are differentiating with advanced offering for professional athletes while few can be placed in me-too category. In the snapshot above, activity tracking includes statistics like calories burnt, steps taken, floors climbed, distance traveled, hours slept etc.

The second way of differentiation is based on how you wear devices - wrist, headband, ear-bud, carry, glasses, clothing etc with wrist devices in majority.The third way of differentiation is based on the social context in which the product is used - individual, family, kids, social, gamification etc. Maybe I should try to create an equivalent snapshot using these two ways of differentiation.

Well, the market is quickly moving towards commoditization, the real differentiation will be in terms of services and continuous usage of the product.

Till then, just go with price and looks and maybe good battery life!