The Core

There can be serious and irrevocable implications of poor decisions. Take outsourcing for example. Bad outsourcing was based on costs. For every engineer in a “high cost” location we can get three in a “low-cost” venue. And development resource expenses are a big chunk of our direct costs, which means we shall see immediate margin expansion if we did this. Great – set targets and get on with this plan. “Hey, what if we managed to find four developers at the price of one? Won’t that help the company’s cause even more?” – the first seed of poor implementation has set in

Some years later you have built up a huge organization on the principle but the sign on the building still says “COST”. And in the meanwhile you have realized the added burden of handling complexity, communication and controlling quality coming out of a cost-optimized factory. Then someone throws up their hands and says – “you know what, we should have planned it better”

Both yes and no. No because it is likely that your firm did in fact plan all this – just that they chose the wrong core ideas to build their plans on (and perhaps did not think the thing through). Yes, because without a good plan it is likely that you will never understand what you are after. The idea behind planning is to start with a core and build concentric circles around it. The concentric circles are steps to fructify that core. And each outward circle has to be evaluated if it adds to or subtracts from the core (retain if former, discard if latter) In this example, the core could well have been “optimize costs” but it is likely that many concentric circles were allowed even when it was evident they were diluting the core. All plans get a reality check when they hit the asphalt making it even more important to keep a close watch on those concentric circles

The core is equally important when unwinding a bad decision just so one does not wipe out an accretive circle in the process

Sadly, in my experience, especially in outsourcing and breaking ground with new products or setting up businesses in virgin territories I have seen far too many plans with poorly thought out cores. Your experience could well be different. It will be a breath of fresh air to hear about them.

Bloggers’ Block & P2H

I have not posted a single article in September. My readership has not fallen off the cliff but it is clear that I have been living off endowments.

I have been inflicted with Bloggers’ Block – an inability to feed a editorial content centric medium with thoughts that matter, conversations that advance a line of thinking. It is easy for me to sit back and attribute this apathy to several reasons but none of them would hold up against my dad’s principle – “If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well”. And this blog is worth doing.

Thus is born P2H – shorthand for Project Two Hundred. In the next one year, I set myself a target of 200 posts, without bunching them up and gaming the system. The objective behind this is two fold. First (and most obvious) is to ensure my readers get the content they expect from this medium. Secondly (and more important for me), I expect this will force me to find an hour of thinking time every day

To keep myself honest I shall post the standard Board Room “Target v Actual” graphs every month (if you want special animation in those or super-vivid colors, please write to me)

There is something that I would like you to do too. If you see some (or none) of what I have set as goals happening you will post an acerbic comment on this post. I shall not delete it. It will serve as a permanent footprint on cyberspace of not doing well something that was worth that effort

PS: As always, there is a bit of Seth Godin in all this