How Venture Capitalists Think?

Every entrepreneur wants to understand this. Here is one more chance to glimpse into one such mind. This interview (Link: http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/inside-the-mind-of-a-venture-capitalist?cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck-oth) with Steve Jurvetson of Draper Fisher Jurvetson is very interesting.

What got me excited is his thoughts on how large companies can deal with disruption. This is important to me for two reasons: (i) this relates to my research on corporate engagement with startups and corporate acceleration; and (ii) it helps in bringing one more perspective in my workshops on corporate innovation and strategic leadership.

Happy Listening!

Google – still entrepreneurial?

It is difficult to understand organisations. Why 3M attract so much interest from everyone around the world? They have some how managed to keep the entrepreneurial quotient alive. While many companies learn about the 3M Case Study in Corporate Innovation Workshops, very few have been able to create their own model to keep innovation alive.

Google is proving to be another exception. Recently Google spoke about an internal project to develop a new operating system (from scratch). When I read through the article (Link: http://www.fastcompany.com/3063006/why-on-earth-is-google-building-a-new-operating-system-from-scratch), I also kind of think we need to envision a new operating system. But that is so much against an organisation’s short term goals. Android is gaining popularity. Why do something that can (probably) kill it? But isn’t that what entrepreneurial companies have always done in the past?

While doing everything they should to keep Android the best operating system, they are also building an alternative. If they continue to keep this spirit alive, they will continue to be an entrepreneurial organisation.

I now use Google along with 3M in my workshops on Corporate Innovation and Corporate Entrepreneurship. There is a lot to learn and imbibe. There is so much opportunity for large organisations to turn entrepreneurial, but will they? They need aspirational leaders to make this happen. I hope I can enable the creation of a few!

Building Great Teams

No amount of inputs on this topic seems sufficient. Building winning teams is difficult. Especially when it comes to entrepreneurs / startups. Here are some thoughts on how you can build them. Link: http://www.strategy-business.com/blog/The-Acceleration-Factor

While the five factors may be everything, they do provide enough thoughts to get started in building and sustaining great teams within your startups and organisations.

Read. Think. Apply. Build.

“Taking moral responsibility” – what does it mean?

The General Elections to the Lok Sabha 2014 has just been declared over. The results have been a vent of all bottled up expectations. Lots of young people (in age & mind) went out to vote because they were frustrated. Everyone wanted change! Why not? Look at all the stagnation over the last few years, what else did we expect? Change was imminent!

But what surprised me most were the funny reactions happening over the last few days. Some of the senior journalists (not all) have been pushing people (the ones who have lost) to take moral responsibility. Many senior politicians have also used the same phrase “taking moral responsibility” just too many times! What does it mean? What must be the actions that truly reflect it?

It looks like “taking moral responsibility” means “resigning”. Sorry to say that it seems so obviously wrong! At least that’s what it means when we listen to the news. The politicians, journalists and political analysts seem to be reiterating this. Resignations are flying off the shelf! Every party that has lost the election has its leader putting in their papers. And we see people (senior journalists) on television praising such acts as signs of leadership. The singular message for anyone who thinks rationally is this: there is no understanding of what “taking moral responsibility” means and nobody seems to understand what “good leadership” is? What must a good leader do during a time of crisis? Is there not good quality research output describing what a good leader can do during a time of crisis? Are there not enough advisors who can guide leadership through these challenging times?

“Taking moral responsibility” or “taking responsibility” means “I want to do something about what has happened” or “I want to make sure I do something that will ensure this situation does not repeat itself”. It definitely is not simply throwing up the hands and saying “I tender my resignation”. Here are some more thoughts on what “taking responsibility” means: https://rajshankar.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/taking-responsibility-what-does-that-mean/ (Co-incidentally I wrote it one day before the counting started)

It’s time a lot more people in India really understand what “leadership” really means so that we can sieve the real leaders from the crowd.

The next time anyone (politicians and journalists amongst others) uses the phrase “taking moral responsibility”, please use it for its real meaning, not as yet another gimmick to gain attention.

Congratulations Mr Modi

Congratulations Mr Narendra Modi! You seem to be the next Prime Minister of India (in all probability). Since people have voted you to power, their wishes are going to be with you for the next 5 years. But the real test of your leadership is going to begin once you sit on the top job. The millions who have voted this time around are waiting:

  • The millions of people who have voted for you are looking to see you make changes.
  • The millions of people who voted for you are yearning for you to bring development.
  • The millions of people who voted for you are waiting to hear you make the changes that will change their lives for the better.
  • More importantly, the millions of people who did not vote for you are waiting to convince their friends (your supporters) how wrong their choice has been!
  • Every one of the millions who have voted are waiting to see India change and grow for the better

The truth is that nobody who has come to power has said the opposite! All who have come to power, came there making promises, but somehow most of those promises have not been kept. While everyone is expecting you to make changes to development and other issues, there one big change that you can usher in: Here is your chance to bring the biggest change of them all – keeping promises!

We all look forward to unblocking the potential that Indians contain. We have been restricted for too long. Will you be the change that everyone hopes?

The big lesson from your victory is that in times of crisis, people want bold, courageous leaders. They want leaders who will take decisions. They want leaders who have some stand on issues. They want leaders who will lead them from the present state, without worry about where they are headed. Whether these are the best for all of us only time will tell, but people still want a strong personality leading them.

Peter Drucker said “The future cannot be predicted, but it can be created.” Isn’t that true? To create a future we need leaders who can take decisions, follow it through to completion and live a life of character. There are a lot of hopes, possibilities and expectations. If they come true (through you) they are good for India as a whole.

Congratulations once again Mr Modi and best wishes to keep the hopes of India alive!

The Big Lesson from Indian Lok Sabha Elections 2014

If there is one big lesson that has been delivered through this election results it is this – if you don’t change, change will be thrust upon you.

Was this not imminent to every party that lost this election, months ago? Hence this is not the time to submit resignations and make emotional statements. This is the time to introspect, reflect and discuss, so that each of your organizations can learn from your own mistakes / lapses in strategy.

This is also the best time to reflect on your mission and purpose of existence. Why does your party exist? What can you and your fellow members do to make course corrections? After all one election is not the end of the world. It is just one exam in life’s never ending semester examinations. So, don’t waste this valuable time in complaint and regret. Instead, seek corrective actions, right measures, direction and suggestions. You and your party need a clear goal and focused strategy. This is the time to create it. This is the time to identify the best people to resurrect each of your institutions. You have time, but it has to be channeled. This is the real test of character and that is the biggest trait of leadership.

Please use your time well instead of engaging in trivial conversations in public over inconsequential and hypothetical situations.

So, I reiterate the biggest learning from this election for everyone (not just politicians) – change or be ready to be run over by change! The choice is yours!

“Taking Responsibility” – what does that mean?

Every now and then you hear about the word “responsibility”. Most people complain that most others don’t seem to “take responsibility” for their actions. But sadly no one looks at themselves and more importantly no one really understands what that phrase means! It bothers me a lot more when I hear entrepreneurs talk about others not taking responsibility. What exactly does “taking responsibility” mean?

What do people mean when they use the phrase? In most of the cases where I get to hear people say the above phrase, they mean “should not have been done or should not have been missed”. Almost always this happens in hindsight. He should have been more careful or she should have taken greater care while planning for it! Whenever you catch yourself saying such statements, remember: you are just complaining. There is no corrective action or suggestion for improvement to that person. Most of these conversations end up becoming heated debates or arguments, with both the parties irritated and agitated.

What should the phrase actually mean? It should mean that we will be more mindful of what we are taking on as jobs. It should mean we should treat the activity we take on as though it is critical. It should mean that we will lose something personally if we don’t get it done right. It should mean that for someone what I am getting done is really critical. Hence if we come across people not doing their jobs with care, we must remind them that they could be in the receiving end. It is important that people understand the collaborative nature of the working world. “Taking Responsibility” hence when used by anyone means “I will get this done as promised or will keep you appropriately informed in case of any changes in plan well in advance.” And very important is to note that if I want to do this like I do it for myself, I must take care of two things:

  • Avoid multitasking while carrying out tasks of responsibility
  • Avoid potential distractions while carrying out tasks of responsibility
  • Avoid assuming anything about the activity itself

Think about it!