Raj's Lab

Strategy and Entrepreneurship


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What’s Your Cause?

When it rains, the homeless struggle to even stay dry. On a normal stu_concernTday a few millions go without food.  Every year, millions of children turn malnourished across the world. With increasing number of vehicle owners and advancement of science, parking, pollution and urban infrastructure are bigger challenges than before. Poverty, corruption, safety, health, orphans,  dying languages, near extinction species amongst others are all causes. Is one cause more important than the other? Who is to decide?

Have any of these causes not existed in the past? Has somebody in the past not worked to eliminate them? Then, is it that no causes have been eliminated ever in the past? There is no absolute yes or an absolute no to any of these. While some causes have been taken up and resolved (milk shortage) by people who cared for them (Kurien), most causes never seemed to have been taken to a logical end even in the limited context.  Why is this?

In today’s world with communication becoming easier than ever and rallying support for causes more possible than before, it is important for each one of us to choose the cause that we care about the most. No one person can handle and take up all the causes. Every individual gets impacted by some cause and they must take extreme interest to channel the concern towards that cause to help resolve it.  Every individual who feels concern for a similar cause genuinely and whole heartedly will commit themselves and join hands naturally.

When should one exhibit concern and for which cause is very personal. All causes are important, and all causes need resolution.  In our limited and short lives let us take up any one cause that we feel closely connected with, resonate with and attempt to resolve along with others who are on that journey.

Don’t compare causes and spend energy convincing whose cause is bigger. Spend that energy in resolving your cause a bit more.  Choose yours now – it is waiting for you!


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On Strategy: Where is it?

Every business leader and entrepreneur think they have a well thought of strategy. They think they have it all chalked out. They can talk about it all the time and recall it at any moment. But when you ask them to Chess-kingmake a presentation to an audience formally – most falter! Not because they don’t know their business, but because they have not written it down. When a business is small, one can keep all of these things in the head. But as the business grows, the entrepreneur / leader must understand the importance of having a written strategy document.

What must a strategy document contain? In MHO a strategy document must contain:

  • Purpose of the Firm
  • Values (what we will and won’t do)
  • Choices (Products/Services/Markets/ etc)
  • 12 month Goals
  • 36 month Goals
  • The 12 month plan

Most small business owners in their attempt to grow, end up trying to be more active than before. They get aggressive and continue their early habits of enterprise growth. They do now what they have been doing all the while, with greater vigour. But this may not really help, if where they want to reach is another point in the growth chart.

As the organization grow to become more than just the owner and his intentions – written documents help everyone associated (including the owner) understand their changing roles, contribution and context. A written document provides great clarity on the ‘What’ and thereof on the ‘How’ of the journey. This enables decisions that are effective, prioritization that is consistent and purpose that is common.

A formal presentation to the team energizes the team, aligns them and indicates to them what is expected of them. This sets the tone for further meaningful action from each and every individual of the team. As a start, this integrates best the intent with the expected action.  Most of the time during my review sessions on strategy with CEOs of emerging companies, I enable and catalyze this exercise. I work with the CEO in getting his team charged up and get actions off the ground. If the leader does not do this – no amount of motivation programs can help, especially at the senior levels.  If you haven’t done it yet – do it now! Call me if you need help!!


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You don’t need a purpose to live!

This is a continuation of what started as a talk on Saturday evening, went online as a blog ( http://rajshankar.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/when-should-an-entrepreneur-think-of-purpose/ ) on Sunday and led me through a day of extremely spirited discussions for & against on Monday. While some agree that purpose can make a difference to the startup, many have questioned its authenticity. They feel its just a flashy statement created to look interesting in front of the customer. Its contribution to the firm’s evolution, growth and sustenance has been questioned strongly. Voices are stating that one does not need a purpose to live.

I AGREE COMPLETELY! You don’t need a purpose to live life! Why do you?

You need it only if you intend to give meaning to your everyday actions!

You need it only if you intend to have at least one man / one woman (not family) miss you!

You need it only if you want to live a life of service!

You need it only if you want to derive joy in enabling another live better!

You need it only if you want to be self-driven!

You need it only if you want to sustain your passion & energy!

And many more… BUT why do you need a purpose to live? To live like any other plant, animal and so many human beings who live their lives in a pre-programmed way – you don’t need a purpose. You only need it if you want to wake up every morning to get back to what you love doing irrespective of the outcome. You need it if you want to thrive not survive! You need it if you want to give not take!

So don’t worry about not having a purpose – if all you want to do is just live! AND the same holds true for firms too!


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Pinging PURPOSE!

As we begin this new year – as we set ourselves new goals – as we move to seek fresh horizons – some questions that we may want to answer not from a cynical perspective but as an earnest attempt in discovering ourselves:

  • Do we all live life only when we find our purpose?
  • Do we all have a purpose in life?
  • Do we all need a purpose in life?
  • Do we all attempt to find our purpose in life?
  • Do we all have the courage to stand for our purpose in life?
  • Do we all have the boldness to live our purpose in life?
  • Do we intend to live a purposeful life?

These questions are tough but important because ONLY purpose-filled lives are chronicled, referred and remembered!

Here’s wishing you a great year – where you discover and delight in the purpose of your lives…

Happy New Year!


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Book Review: “Full Steam Ahead” – Powered to the hilt!!

Book : Full Steam Ahead!  Authors:  Ken Blanchard and Jesse Stoner

There is so much spoken and written about ‘vision’ for a business. It is almost as-if a war would break out (intellectually) about what the words ‘vision’ and ‘mission’ mean and which is bigger?
 
This little book titled “Full Steam Ahead” is actually a book about ‘vision’ – I never thought it would be when I looked at the title. But once I started reading it, I realized that this is another little gem that Ken Blanchard and team have given us. There is a philosophical bent to the ideas presented apart from the absolutely logical build-up of the concepts. This combination along with the slight emotional connect through story-telling that the authors have achieved, has made the book un-put-down-able! You will not be able to stop once you start, till you race to the end. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised even if this beats some of the real blockbuster movies hands-down in storyline!
 
If not anything else, the price of the book is more than worth for just the following pages: Purpose (39), Values (63), Picture of the Future (78), Vision (80), Test of a compelling vision (82) and For Vision to become Reality (120). These six pages captures in essence the message of the book. But reading just these pages is not a substitute to reading the book!
 
According to the authors, vision is made up of three components (Purpose, Values and a Picture of the Future) and putting these together and implementing it in the present is what makes the difference! I strongly recommend this little book to every person even if they are just toying with the idea of creating a meaningful life – while for every entrepreneur it should be mandatory reading!

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