March 30, 2008

Management MANTRAS from Dabbawalas

Being from Mumbai and having spent most of my time traveling in the local trains of Mumbai, life was always difficult. But even during these tough times, when there was so much crowd in the trains, you would always see Gandhi-Topi people also called Dabbawalas [or Tiffin Carriers ] , who are trying hard to serve food to their customers on time; or should I say give an On-Time Delivery biggrin

One of the most impressive things about them is the cycle that they use, the same old famous Hero Cycle and the same tradition still continues...nothing has changed yet their delivery-cycle still remains the same. If you check them out on any station, you can learn "Team Building Lessons" from them !!!.

So many dabbas taken everyday, yet very very few errors, this is the amazing story of "The Mumbai Dabbawalas" who have become a WORLDWIDE BRAND yet their work is not affected with the newly branded Image smile

While reading about them, there was an amazing presentation that came to my notice on their website....Yes, they are also changing with times, but the presentation titled "Management Lessons from Dabbawalas" would surely teach "Too much change is also bad" !!!

Management MANTRAS from Dabbawalas:

1. Keep the operational costs as low as possible.
2. Keep capital investments bare minimum.
3. Just serve your customer - nothing else.
4. Customer is not the Raja, but the Maharaja.
5. Complexity opposes compliance.
6. Never deviate from your core competency.
7. Don't be over dependent on technology [surely not applicable to a technology company] .
8. Flat organization, Fast decision making.
9. Co-operation inside, Competition outside.
10. Keep extras for Full Tolerance.
11. Commitment matters.
12. Keep the implication of failure.
13. Build your ideas around existing infrastructure.
14. Abandon bad customers.
15. Strike means suicide, labor means life.
16. Penalize employees for non-compliance.
17. Do not transfer your employees very often.
18. Keep your employees emotionally united.
19. High salary alone cannot retain employees.
20. Be humble and don't boast your success.

You can view the complete presentation from here

Three key LEARNINGS Dabbawalas:

1. Open Culture is the key:
When you come to work, you can have only two reactions - "Either you feel, you have come to a work (indicating you are bored with your work) or party(indicating you are enjoying your work) sad One of the key drivers to this is "Open Culture".Culture has become an integral part of any organization, try building it from day one !!!!
Gone are the days, when you can say that "I manage a team of XYZ people", now have to refine this statement to : "We are a team of XYZ people". Well it sounds the same, but the difference is huge !!!

2. Turn your Customers into Evangelists:
Even though there was not much money spent in their[Dabbawalas] marketing , they still managed to become a household name" and I am sure the first person who might have given the dabba had played a major part in this !!!
This customer was the one who acted as a evangelist for them so, create a long lasting impression from the beginning and soon your company would have a large no of evangelists !!!

3. Use the Keep It Simple Stupid[KISS] principle wherever possible:
Even though Dabbawalas don't use technology, they managed to clinch Six Sigma. 85% illiterate people, no technology yet so few errors !!! The answer is to ask the question : "Do we really need XYZ simply because others are using XYZ?".For example: If you are a startup, your main focus should be great software and not great office/furniture (which would follow soon after the success of your product/service).
So evaluation of an option becomes a key, so as the KISS principle says:
A very straightforward approach may seem less glamorous and less dramatic, but the trivial approach should indeed be taken. Surprisingly, the very obvious approach is often the best.
Do not miss to have a look at the various other articles on Dabbawalas Official Website

Other articles on Dabbawalas [covered on Thoughtsprevail]:

Dabbawalas, Building lasting success based on values
Dabbawalas - Straight from the Gut

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March 27, 2008

BlogCampMumbai : Have Vadapav with Bloggers

The race to Mumbai's first ever BlogCamp is on and now it is just a few hours away [not to remember things in day(s)]smile Though, attending Mumbaiya BlogCamp was always on my charts but due to some reasons, I would not be able to attend the unconference in Aamchi Mumbai sad.

When we talk about Unconferences, BarCamps also fit under the same category and I was very much attracted with the Barcamp Mumbai [held in 2006] poster and did not want to miss this chance to have it on my blog (though I know it is very very late). A beautiful piece of work !!!!

[Creative & Design Courtesy : Hitesh Mehta]

Though, IMHO with the advent of Wireless Technologies, the headphones in the image should have been wireless smile While searching for Unconferences, I also came across another interesting poster made for BarCamp Ahmedabad.

[Image Courtesy : Aditi Gupta]

So, just like you got confused reading this article, you may get confused(especially if you are a first timer) in BlogCamps or BarCamps; but there is definitely lot's to be taken from such camps (along with confusion) ....So don't miss this chance and register for BlogCamp Mumbai(to be held on 29th March,2008) here.Details about the venue here

With many new cities(like Kashmir , Kerala) hosting Unconferences ; very shortly, you can expect another new city hosting it's first ever Unconference .... So which is that city, keep watching this space for the suspense !!!

This article really turned out to be a VadaPav,a mixture of so many things, yet so tasty wink

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March 25, 2008

Ten easy steps to improve your eCommerce business

Close to a year back, we had our first guest article by Mr Ranjan on Financial Management for a Startup Firm and continuing this so called discontinued release cycle wink, we have our second guest blogger named Heather Johnson.So, now let us have a look at Heather's profile.

About Heather Johnson:
Heather Johnson is a freelance business, finance and economics writer, as well as a regular contributor at Business Credit Cards, a site for business credit cards and best business credit card offers. She contributes actively to their blog BootStrapper.Heather welcomes comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address
You can find few of her sample articles here,here and here

In this article, she would talk about ten easy steps to improve your eCommerce business and since they are easy, most of us tend to forget them biggrin , so let's have a look at them !!!

Ten easy steps to improve your eCommerce business:
As with any business, the feeling a customer walks away with after doing business online is crucial to the company’s success. Now more than ever, the customer’s experience, whether good or bad, travels far and wide in the eCommerce world. A good experience fosters positive word of mouth and valuable online customer reviews to attract future customers.

Here are some simple ways you can ensure you are providing excellent customer service and not losing any potential business:

1. Open the lines of communication
Have you ever searched forever to find a contact number or e-mail address of a company you’re doing business with online? It should never take more than a mouse click or a scroll down the page to find this information. Make it easy for the customer to locate this most basic information.

2. Confirm every order
Send a confirmation e-mail to your customer to alert them that their order is being processed. This alleviates concern that their order is lost in cyberspace along with their credit card information.

3. Stick to your guarantees
If you tell a customer their order will be delivered in three days make sure you follow through. Empty promises leave a bad taste in the customer’s mouth.

4. Anticipate customer questions
Create a FAQ section on your site. A comprehensive list will limit the amount of time a customer will use to find an answer to a potentially easy question.

5. Make it worth their while
Develop an incentive program. This could range from free shipping to coupons for future purchases.

6. Listen to your customers
The old adage, “the customer is always right,” should be heeded. If a customer has a suggestion, complaint or compliment , than listen to their message and apply it in future practice.

7. Properly train employees
A support staff is your front line and it’s imperative your employees are well trained and knowledgeable about your line of business.

8. Apply a personal touch
This will help set you apart from the pack. It could be as simple as providing free gift wrap.

9. Show you’re credible
Add photos or testimonials on your site to make your customers aware of the quality of your service.

10. Have a warm body on the phone
Customers don’t want to hear the same thing they’ve heard from every other company they’ve done business with. Have some personality and show an understanding of your customers’ needs.

I hope you enjoyed reading Heather's tips , just as I did and hoping to see more guest bloggers contributing to Thoughtsprevail smile

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March 19, 2008

HP : Seven Habits of Ambitious companies

We have written a lot on what(s) and why(s) of blogging, why should companies blog, why should company employees blog and so on...... Just came across an interesting article on HP's Blog titled "Seven habits of ambitious companies" with Blogging being ranked # 5 in the list biggrin..... Ambitious companies should :

1. Have big ideas
Set big, ambitious goals. They thrive on change but stay true to their purpose.

2. Stay focused
Whether companies diversify or specialise, they make smart business decisions and back winners.

3. Build momentum
They don’t let the impossible interfere with the possible.

4. Put people first
Ambitious companies hire ambitious people. They give people the tools and information they need to do the job. They are unapologetic about going after the best talent available.

5. Encourage communication
They start by listening: to customers, employees and critics alike. They encourage blogging. They sound like people, not like lawyers.

6. Manage innovation
They don’t punish failure to succeed, only failure to try.

7. Listen to their conscience
They have an environmental and social conscience and listen to it. Not because they have to, but because it makes good business sense.

Read the complete article here

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March 15, 2008

Importance of Web 2.0 for non Web 2.0 Startups

All of us know that with the advent of community driven websites like Wikipedia,Facebook, Orkut etc ; Web 2.0 has become an integral part of any initiative.

But the question is "Can we try to implement the same COMMUNITY DRIVEN model in typical organizations".It would always be very difficult since it is always difficult to break the jinx such organizations .

And a single word that can define a community is "Web 2.0" But many times, startups especially not dealing in the web space forget to use the potential of Web2.0. Let us on how such startups can use the potential of web 2.0 to increase their business and Brand image !!!

RSS Readers [Time Saved is money saved] :
In a startup,along with the day to day activities, it is also very important to read a lot of stuff about things happening in the market so that we are aware about the competition.I have encountered many people who are not comfortable with RSS Readers or not aware about the same [since they concentrate more on technology they have been working with] and spend time on Websites/Blogs searching for content, which can be easily searched using RSS Reader smile You can also check out an article where Robert Scoble shows his way of reading 622 feeds every morning"

Twitter [A NICHE recruitment platform ???] :
Though I am not a big Twitter freak but one day, this thought crossed my mind that just like guys use Twitter to increase the traffic on their blogs, can't it not be used as a source of recruitment? For example , I am connected to X people on twitter and those X people are connected to Y people , which are connected to N people ...... and so on the chain keeps on growing.In a startup, where you cannot afford to spend time searching for candidates on job-sites nor can you afford to spend money to hire guys through consultants, Twitter can be used as one of the mediums to at least spread the word about an opening in your company[just like social networking sites like Orkut] and may be one day you may find one guy saying "I got a job through Twitter" smile

Slideshare [Slides can make a difference !!!!] :
Startups have to be innovative in recruiting people and what best can you do if you could "convince a person to join your startup in just 5-10 slides" smile For more information on the same, you can refer my article here.Piyush Gupta,Cofounder of RouteGuru also has an interesting slideshow covering his startup here

Youtube [Viral Marketing and Recruitment platform] :
Youtube is not new to any one of us and all of us know, organizations especially startups use YouTube as a tool for Viral Marketing.To show the innovative culture in your startup, you can just upload a video[showcasing your startup] on YouTube and link it on your blog & definitely, you would get better job candidates using Youtube than the most prominent jobs-sites !!!

Check out this interesting video on Gmail !!!

Blogging & Podcasting [Effective marketing platform] :
As a startup, you should have always have an active blog!!! Even the employees should be allowed to contribute to the blog so that "They can also feel that they also own a PIE of the company and get a sense of ownership of the startup" smile Not to forget , this would also demonstrate "The openness in your culture" !!! And yes, if you are not comfortable with text, than audio/video Podcasting can also be a tool to watch out for !!!

Linkedin , Xing and other Business Networking sites [Networking and Business Development]:
Linkedin is a website about which I have written a lot on my blog. But if you want to expand in other geographic locations where Linkedin is not so popular, than use the local networking site of the region. e.g. Europe's Xing is more popular in UK. So depending on the region where your startup is likely/expected to get business from ; start making contacts with the people from that region using such websites.This not only helps in understanding the local consumer needs but would also help in expanding your business in different regions !!! Linkedin blog has an interesting article on "How can you use Linkedin to strengthen your professional brand" here

These are some of my thoughts on how you can use Web 2.0 to effectively research [on your business];market, scale your business and recruiting talented lot for your startup smile

Edited , Dated : 19/03/2008
Have a look at this interesting presentation titled "How can organizations harness the power of Web 2.0"

Slide Courtesy : Amit Ranjan

If there are some interesting techniques that I might have missed out, do leave them in the comments section and I would add them here in my article !!!

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March 6, 2008

Experience is the Product

Came across an interesting Video Presentation by Peter Merholz of AdaptivePath where he points out "How important the experience of using a PRODUCT is !!!"

He also points out that a reverse cycle of Experience --> Features --> Technology may lead to Products with BETTER user experience ....Enjoy the presentation smile

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March 5, 2008

It's NOW or NEVER ...... Let's DO IT......

Last few months, there has been virtual no activity happening on my blog. There were a couple of mails from a few of my readers, some of which are below:

Thanks for each one of them for treating me very special smile Jokes apart, I thought I have done a lot of talking on my blog and this was best to implement AT LEAST few of the things that I have been writing on my blog !!!

As you might have guessed, I have quit my job and am now a part of an Entrepreneurial venture in the product space. It has just been one week since, I began my life as an Entrepreneur and am already noticing quite a bit of change in my personal life since, I think a lot before spending money and now would not be receiving a big Pay Cheque at the End of Month cry

Now along with the normal writings on my blog, I would also write an occasional article where I would write about my journey [though it has just started and I hope that it would continue till the rest of my life!!!]

Since networking is an integral part of being Independent , I would like to connect with more people who are interested in Entrepreneurship.

You can view my View Himanshu Sheth('s profile on LinkedIn profile and I would like to network with more and more people smile Finally, thanks each & everyone for your continuous co-operation and would love to see you more in future !!!

Definitely, now the Blogging cycle won't dip and you would see more & more article from my side !!! smile

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