Why product development is not that easy?

It is encouraging to see some quality product development technology startups in India forming up steadily. We have finally broken the IT services jinx and are looking beyond the outsourcing model. It is taking time for this wave of change to hit the shores, but it is worth the wait.

I have been directly (I work for one!) and in-directly involved with some technology startups. I do experience the pains of building a product development company on several occasions, especially in the Indian context. Continue reading

I for Implementation!

IBM’s commercials always have an “interest quotient”. The recent Innovation-Man commercial where our I-Man completely forgets about the “I for Implementation” is funny but close to reality. A product development (the sequence can vary based on the product type) goes through the following phases: 1. Market Research/Ideation, 2. Design and Research, 3. Implementation/Execution, 4. Reach-to-market/Sales.

Each step in this process is equally important and often the execution or implementation of ideas is what makes all the difference. This is a common phenomena in software-based products where poor execution screws up a great idea. As Scott Rosenberg aptly describes in his book “Dreaming in Code” – Software is hard; ….it is not like building ships….

The art of meticulous planning for better execution is what distinguishes a great product from a ‘yet-another’ product. Having said that, a key aspect of this execution phase is to be ready to take the outlier road blocks head-on and resolve them with an eye for detail. The journey ‘almost’ never is as you have planned. We often miss the bus on the route and have to rush before it is too late to reach the destination.Implementation is easier said than done – probably that is why we often call this an art!

The case of the "Bonsai Manager"

The case of the bonsai manager – sometime later in 2007 I got a chance to read this wonderful book by R. Gopalakrishnan. In this interesting book, Gopalakrishnan derives inspiration from nature to motivate managerial thoughts and growth stories.

I have never been a ‘manager’ myself – except from being a lead on some projects and choreographing some dances – enjoying most of both the challenges. An interesting note for me is a strong correlation between dance troupes and product development teams; or any team for that matter.

There always is a delicate balance between discipline, passion and co-operation. An inspiring choreographer/manager can identify personality-role mappings; resolve conflicts; respects group and individual priorities and discourages negative energies. McKinsey Quarterly (4, 2007) discusses radical change in organisations and mentions the need to remove negative energies. Negative energies often creep into leadership personalities creating a gang of cynics. This is the birth of the bonsai manager – the growth has just been stunted! Continue reading