Wednesday, September 10, 2014

5 criteria for idea selection

Infosys is trying various things to remain at the top of industry. One of the activity to keep holding the top position was to come up with new ideas to work on. For this they have crowdsourced ideas from within. They got nearly 2,600 proposal and out of which 68 were finalized after a series of filtering rounds. I liked the filtering criteria that they have applied for choosing the ideas to work on. 

The criteria feels simple if you get to know about it but I am sure they must have had good discussion to arrive at such criteria which covers interest of all stakeholders. And appealing to all stakeholders is the real key for the selection criteria. 

Five elements of the filter are:
  1. Desirability - This is for clients. The idea has to have appeal for the customers. Ultimately they are going to use the product/solution. 
  2. Feasibility - This is for the company. Idea should be within their circle of capability. This will ensure that the speed of development would be fast.
  3. Potential - This is for the benefit of the masses - market. Idea shouldn’t solve the problem that are not worrying people at large. The solution for very localized and pocket problems can come from any startup but big organizations should focus on solving bigger problems. 
  4. Clarity - This is for the people who would be the part of the project. If clarity is not there people will not understand vision of the product/solution. 
  5. Viability - This is for the investors by large. The viable idea will be sold at the right price creating value for the investors. 

So in summary, Infosys has tried to consider the aspirations of clients, organization, market, project team and investors.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Three learning I got after losing Rs. 50


I learnt few important lessons for my life at cost of Rs. 50 at Funfair organized at our company.

The event was organized for raise money for charity. All the revenue collected through this would go to NGO so I had set my own budget apart from our team contribution to support NGO financially. But interestingly I got to learn few important things.

I was playing Below 7 or Above 7 game. In this game you have to just guess the total of two dices thrown. If you win you get double of your bet. Before play I had done my homework and decided to bet for below 7 all time since the probability of win is 50% statistically so it was the safe move per say. But when I played my belief and faith in statistics based decision got tossed.

I learnt that

  • Decisions based on stats only is not a good way to go with - My play strategy was solely based on statistical analysis yet I lost money.
  • Go with your heart - Many times during play I disobeyed my internal voice and got ruined
  • Failure doesn't sadden always - Since I knew the purpose of play and was completely convinced failure didn't make me sad


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Corporate e-Newsletter Initiative – How to go about it?

If you are thinking of starting up a e-newsletter activity at corporate level then below are few tips that might help you in the course. I have divided a newsletter activity in three phases viz. planning, construction and distribution.

Planning phase

1. Attention grabbing name

The name of the newsletter should grab attention of the audience. If your brand is highly recognizable in your business community then only use that name. If that is not the case then use any other name that will represent the aim of your newsletter. For example, if you are starting a newsletter for cloud services then have the name something as ‘Envisioning the Cloud’.

2. Decide your target audience

It is not always possible to have different newsletters for different segments of your market due to budget and resource constraints. In that case you will have to choose your first market segment that you will serve as a pilot campaign. Based on its success you can go on adding segments in current newsletter or starting different newsletters for each category.

3. Subscribers database

To be able to send newsletter to your target audience you should have their contact details available in the form of database. The required details are name and email whereas designation, company name, industry, city, phone etc. are good to have information about your suspects and prospects.

It is advisable to have the list that is organically built from scratch on your own. The rented lists may violate SPAM ACT and your company may face legal issues.

4. Decide medium for e-newsletter

You can have either of web, email or PDF format for your corporate e-newsletter activity.
In web newsletter your content pages (HTML files) are published over internet so that those can be accessed by billions of potential people around the globe.

In email newsletter your HTML page is emailed to your prospects. If you have many article pages in that release of newsletter then you write a summary about each article and provide a URL for detailed article on your website in your email.

Note: In case of email newsletter it is very important to check the template for accuracy on all email platforms such as Outlook, Thunderbird, Yahoo mail, Hotmail, Gmail etc. You can find free and quality email newsletter templates at http://www.campaignmonitor.com/templates/ and http://freemailtemplates.com. Select and download the best suited template for your company and change logo, name and other things.

In PDF newsletter format you have to email a PDF file through email or provide a link in your email for the file through which your subscribers can download it.

5. Decide subscription and unsubscribe management method

If you are using third party services such as www.mailchimp.com, www.constantcontact.com and www.verticalresponse.com then you don’t have to worry as these services has builtin feature that takes care of this. But if you are using any desktop software or managing your subscription list in MS Office Excel (however, this is not advisable) then you have to be very particular about managing the subscription and unsubscribed users list. As a part of your process you may want to check the unsubscribe request before every newsletter release and avoid sending your corporate newsletter to those individuals. Remember, sending unsolicited mails and newsletter is illegal.

Construction phase

1. Topics for you to cover in your newsletter.

There is no hard and fast rule about what you should cover in your newsletter. After all it your newsletter hence you are free to write anything you want. Just remember one thing that your prospects and customers are going to read it. So if you write things that don’t interest them then they will simply stop reading your newsletters shunting the objective of starting this complete initiative of having a dialogue. If you want to have a clue kindly refer my earlier post at http://www.mandarthosar.com/2011/04/corporate-e-newsletter-topic-guide.html.

2. Write your newsletter content objectively

There is no doubt that newsletter activity is about promoting your company’s product and services but it should not look like a sales brochure. It should promote your products and services subtly without losing objectivity of the article in corporate newsletter. So you can have an article on ‘Best practices for developing softwares’ and within that talk about how you follow industry best standards without yelling how good you do it.

3. Try to express, not impress

The purpose of a corporate newsletter is to connect with your prospects and customers. Connection can happen only through expressing your company philosophy, attitude, work style, methodology and culture. You should sound casual yet respectful and conversational. Don’t use too much of jargons when simple words will express the same meaning.

4. Front page to draw in readers

The front page of your corporate newsletter i.e. your HTML email that lands in inbox of your prospects and suspects should contain interesting and useful articles. Many will decide whether to read it or put it in trash based on what they read and absorb in first 5-10 seconds. Also remember that articles and news that are important to you might not be important to your subscribers. So think from their perspective.

5. Proof read, proof read

When you write and write-off several times you unknowingly sow grammatical errors and sometimes typos. Sending a newsletter without proof reading it would be looked upon as unprofessional. And with your newsletter you are representing your company. So proof read yourself, get it proof read through somebody else and precautionary proof read third time from somebody outside your organization (may be your friend). Ask them if they understood the meaning and message properly through what you have written. After every change repeat the process.

6. Catchy subject line

Every newsletter release is like a new soccer or cricket match in a knockout tournament. If you want to win then you have to win every game. You will be successful only if your subscribers open your newsletter and read the content. That will only happen when you have creative headline for your corporate newsletter that will entice your audience to take out time to click and read in their favorite email client.

Below are the few DON’Ts for your subject line
  • Don’t use more than 50 characters in subject line
  • Don’t use words (such as free, discount and great etc.) that might just trigger spam filters of your readers email client.
  • Don’t use all caps for your subject line

Distribution phase

1. Whether do it yourself or outsource

If you are comfortable with handling every operational issue with respect to distribution then I will recommend that you should do it yourself. But if you are not confident then you can simply outsource it. There are many good service providers available in the market.

Your decision of doing it yourself or outsource can be based on following points.
  • Subscription management (opt-in and double opt-in)
  • Spam score check
  • Rendering issue with different email clients
  • Un-subscription management
  • Tracking (open and click-through rate reports)

2. Frequency of release

Many feels that a newsletter should be released at fixed interval such as monthly, quarterly etc. But I think you should have newsletter when you have news that is worth reading for your prospects, customers and stakeholders. Having a monthly newsletter with uninteresting stuff will your audience off which you don’t want to happen for sure.

3. Don’t leave it in between

Last suggestion – be consistent with your corporate newsletter initiative. Any initiative takes time to mature so don’t get impatient and don’t demand results too early.

With all my inputs I wish all the very best for your corporate newsletter activity.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Corporate E-Newsletter Topic Guide

7 out of 10 marketing people wish to have their own corporate e-newsletter. They have management will, internal staff support and database of suspects, prospects, customers and other stake holders with them. What they don’t have is the technical knowledge of electronic distribution (which is very easy to acquire) and content idea.

In this post I will talk about content of the newsletter.

Corporate newsletter is a medium through which you want to spread awareness about what’s happening within your company. Since you want to let the world know about your company let’s have a dedicated section for each major functions within your company. In every release you can have one article per section and the most interesting article can be promoted as featured article for that issue.

You can create sections as per your wish. Let’s say we have created four sections for a corporate newsletter campaign – (a) marketing, (b) delivery and operations, (c) human resource and (d) management team. Now, decide subjects that can go under each section. This will give you a topic list for your newsletter. Now before every release you have to check which subject can be part of your corporate newsletter for that particular issue.

Below is one sample e-newsletter topic list.
  • Marketing function
    • Industry trends
    • Key events within your industry
    • Your participation at event, conference and seminars
    • Organizational views about economic, environment, social, technical and political events happening outside
    • Product reviews
    • Events hosted for external parties by your company
    • Client testimonials and stories
    • New client acquisition or new project news
    • Case studies or whitepapers release
  • Delivery or Operations function
    • Technology how-to articles
    • Impact of new developments and latest within your industry
    • Whitepaper on technology
    • Your project management approach
    • Research work or status update
    • Proof of Concepts (POCs) that you have developed and not covered in NDAs
    • Presentations/talks at conference and seminar
    • Community of practices (COP) updates
  • HR function
    • Special events at your company
    • Internal activities and initiatives
    • Training plans and updates
  • Management team
    • Organizational message
    • Visit or business tour information/schedule
    • Invitations to events
    • Business progress reports (quarterly and annual)
    • Survey report or feedback summary relevant to subscribers
This is just a sample list. You can create your own list based on your industry and topic of interest to your target audience.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to groom people?

Below is the story from Google as it is copied from the NYTimes. It tells about grooming your people in appropriate way. Read the story first and then learnings that I drawn from it.

He (Prasad Setty, Google’s vice president for people analytics and compensation) tells the story of one manager whose employees seemed to despise him. He was driving them too hard. They found him bossy, arrogant, political, secretive. They wanted to quit his team.

“He’s brilliant, but he did everything wrong when it came to leading a team,” Mr. Bock recalls.

Because of that heavy hand, this manager was denied a promotion he wanted, and was told that his style was the reason. But Google gave him one-on-one coaching — the company has coaches on staff, rather than hiring from the outside. Six months later, team members were grudgingly acknowledging in surveys that the manager had improved.

“And a year later, it’s actually quite a bit better,” Mr. Bock says. “It’s still not great. He’s nowhere near one of our best managers, but he’s not our worst anymore. And he got promoted.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/business/13hire.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

Learnings according to me:
1. Never take things at its face value. Try to go to the roots of the problem
2. Check if things can be improved
3. Help people improve i.e. provide training or conducive environment
4. And most importantly, love your people but give them recognition (promotion) only when they deserve it

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

On International Woman's Day

According to me the only known category of living organisms, after woodpecker, that is referred by their action is the category of ‘women’. Women are called women because they woo men. It’s as simple as that.

Today is a day of this category – an International Woman’s Day.

In today’s TOI I read Vidya Balan’s opinion about observing Woman’s Day. Witty indeed. But a soft humorous part within me feels jealous about such opinions. I feel women at least have a day on their account. May be for world we men just don’t exist.

Apart from this humorous thinking I am completely in agreement with Vidya that celebrating a day for something or something clearly means less importance for rest of the year. Why we should have a day for women; either we should have a complete year or every second.

It’s an irony that on one hand we talk about gender equality and on the other hand we observe an international woman day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.

We plan to direct our actions to reach the goal in future. A plan is based on our assumptions about the factors that impact it. These assumptions are futuristic based on our knowledge at the time of planning.

Now, consider these two facts
  1. The most uncertain thing in the world is ‘future’
  2. Any change in our assumption will have to be accommodated by making some provision in the plan
So, what is a plan? It is just a document that will keep altering as we move closer to our objective and/or goal. So why all management people tend to focus so much on having plan first, which anyway will change as we progress.

More important thing than plan itself is the process of planning it. If you have acted thoughtful at the time of planning then chances are high that you have included maximum number of alternatives and contingencies in your plan. This will put you in a better position to handle uncertainties of future. And most importantly, it will be easier for you to buy in from team members reducing the resistance to change.

And probably that’s why Linda Hill and Kent Lineback have discussed “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything” in their book ‘Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader’.