Business Model vs Business Plan

How do you explain the difference between a  business model and business plan? I recently tried and struggled to explain. Found this excellent post by Steve Blank here.

Business Plan

A business plan is the execution document that existing companies write when planning product-line extensions where customer, market and product features are known. The plan is an operating document describes the execution strategy for addressing these “knowns.”

Entrepreneurs treat a business plan, once written, as the culmination of everything they know and believe. All they need to do is add money and magically that five-year forecast in Appendix A will simply happen if they execute to the plan.

 Business Model

A business model describes how your company creates, delivers and captures value. A business model is designed to change rapidly to reflect what you find outside the building in talking to customers. It’s dynamic and it reflects the iterative reality that businesses face. 

References:

Validate Your Business Model Start With a Business Model, Not a Business Plan

No Plan Survives First Contact With Customers – Business Plans versus Business Models

From Business Models to Business Plan

Happy Learning!!!

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Stop Blaming Others. Take ownership of your own team members… at the least!!!

Hiring good people is not easy. It doesn’t matter what role you are hiring (Architect, Manager, Tech Lead, Developers, Automation Engineers. Don’t question me why I have not mentioned manual testers in this list :(), it takes a while to find the right person.

Hire MeI am involved in Hiring people for the last 10 years and my average is 40:1. Unless you are lucky and know someone for the job, you may have to speak to 40 candidates before finding 1 Good guy. This average has not reduced in the last 10 years and I don’t see that reducing. It means on an average to get one good guy into the system, it takes approximately 40 hours (at the least).

After you spend so much time and on board a member, there is still no guarantee that the person whom you hired will work.

If it takes so much time to hire and on board a member, why not we spend time with those people, keep them motivated and retain them in our own teams. This is a question I get every time when I hear a good guy leaving.

I have heard multiple good people leaving off late and my frustrations has gone to its peak last week.

I recently heard a manager saying a good team member is leaving because this guy heard someone else talking for 10 minutes, got frustrated and leaving. I know that, I am a naive person. I don’t manage team members now. But, this immediately came out of my mouth.

Really…. Really…. Really…. Really….

May be, it could be just a triggering point. But, this guy would have left even otherwise. Why can’t this manager see this coming?

More than 1 million employees can’t be wrong, so bosses take heed of this. A Gallup poll of more 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor.

People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. 

If it takes so much time to hire a person, why don’t managers generally spend time with their best guys, motivate them and retain them?

After thinking for a long time this is my conclusion. Generally not every manager gets involved in Hiring. They don’t even speak to candidates and spend enough time before getting them on board. Otherwise, stand in the road with a board “I am hiring” and whoever comes in their way, offer them a job.

When you don’t spend time in hiring (like spending 40 hours), you will not even know what is involved in getting a good guy work for you. It’s someone else’ blood. Why should I care in that case?

Worried People

Guys… Let us stop blaming others. At least let us take ownership for our own people. Start spending time with your team members. Speak to them (1:1 – Once in a month) and understand them. Be available, honest and transparent. Help them resolve their day to day issues. Trust will automatically build. 1 Lac here and there will not become a major issue.

Better Bosses, Better Retention!

Happy Learning!!!


Image courtesy

Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A few good men

I met some of my ex-colleagues yesterday and we had a great time. Whenever we meet, one of the topics which always used to come out was how engaged all of us were sometime back.

ManagerWhile returning back home, i was thinking about what made all of us so engaged during that time. Even though some of us are doing some great stuff even today, but the engagement part is not the same.

 

“Many people are unmotivated, not because they have a great reason to be, but rather because they have not been given a great reason to be motivated & engaged.

Keeping the money part aside, some of the things which i could see as a difference

1. Great set of colleagues. I think it really matters with whom you are surrounded with. When you are surrounded with knowledgeable people and people who really work, it automatically spreads. When you are surrounded with people who come to office keeping their brain at home, CGO’s, News readers and As…..s, i guess there is no way people are going to be engaged.

Happy Team

2. A transparent and honest manager, who really cares, gives feedback and helps others grow. Also, when you see your manager putting his best effort and he is truly trying, it really motivates and inspires others. It all starts from the TOP. The same way when a manager can spot a bad apple quickly rather than promoting him or praising him, the work environment become a great place automatically.

3. A great work culture. With a great set of people and good practices, this automatically happens.

I concluded my thought with this. If a company has the right set of practices to hire good people, constantly improves on it, and promotes a good work culture which is transparent and honest, i don’t think there is no need for a separate HR organization promote employee engagement.

The value differentiation for any company always was and always will be PEOPLE.

“If you work in an urgent-only culture, the only solution is to make the right things urgent.” – Seth Godin, author of Linchpin

Happy Learning !!!

Image Courtesy
Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I “Post Master”

Delegation, A topic which cannot be missed in any management books. The message is don’t try to do everything by yourself. By delegating to others (who is capable of doing), you can groom the person, help him to grow and one can focus on the most important tasks.
Delegation
But, what is the key here?

  • Don’t do everything by yourself… It doesn’t say don’t do anything at all
  • Delegate to a person who is capable. “Horses for courses
  • Follow up in a regular interval, check if things are going OK and whether the other person needs any help.

Check here for the 12 Rules for delegation

But People are different. They take only what is important for them. Anything and everything can be delegated to others…

I recently spoke to someone (Let us call him A) who took over an account from another manager. This account is a crucial account and there is a struggle to fill the key position for this crucial account for a very long time. There was no progress made for about 7 months till A took over and suddenly in the last 1 month, there is enough progress that has been made, which is visible.

How come someone couldn’t do anything for 7 months and there is a sudden change in the last month? You can say “Luck“… But that’s not the truth. The Previous person delegated his work to someone and probably that someone delegated it to someone else and this chain could have extended further down and no one had any accountability.

Post MasterBut, since its a crucial thing, A has personally started working on it and because of that things have started moving, and the progress is visible.

Did A do anything different in this context? No, A just did his work and nothing else…

Delegation is important. Delegate when your plate is full, or you know someone else is ready and he can do the job so that you can do something more important.

Don’t Delegate because you have a person and you don’t want do anything at all…

If you do so then you can proudly call yourself as “I am a Post Master….”

Happy Learning!!!

Image courtesy

Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Dundee Photographics / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Together Everyone Achieves More!!!!

After a very long time, i started reading the book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” again. One of my all time favorites. Wanted to post the summary of five dysfunctions, so that i can revisit the summary whenever required.

1. Absence of Trust
2. Fear of Conflict
3. Lack of Commitment
4. Avoidance of Accountability
5. Inattention to Results

  • Absence of trust among team members. Essentially, this stems from their unwillingness to be vulnerable within the group. Team members who are not genuinely open with one another about their mistakes and weaknesses make it impossible to build a foundation for trust.
  • This failure to build trust is damaging because it sets the tone for the second dysfunction: fear of conflict. Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas. Instead, they resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments.
  • A lack of healthy conflict is a problem because it ensures the third dysfunction of a team: lack of commitment. Without having aired their opinions in the course of passionate and open debate, team members rarely, if ever, buy in and commit to decisions, though they may feign agreement during meetings.
  • Because of this lack of real commitment and buy-in, team members develop an avoidance of accountability,the fourth dysfunction. Without committing to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven people often hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that seem counterproductive to the good of the team.
  • Failure to hold one another accountable creates an environment where the fifth dysfunction can thrive. Inattention to results occurs when team members put their individual needs (such as ego, career development, or recognition) or even the needs of their divisions above the collective goals of the team.

I found a link to an assessment. If you are running a team, you may find it useful!!!

Building and maintaining a team is hard work and can force even the most seasoned professional well outside of their traditional comfort zones.
Professionals have disparate work habits, communication styles and levels of emotional intelligence.
Getting everyone to pull in the same direction can be tough work!
Via : Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Summary

Useful Summaries
http://slooowdown.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/a-summary-of-the-five-dysfunctions-of-a-team-by-patrick-lencioni/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sqvWEI1CVg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtB6D9tIjl8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9mdHMtxOjY
http://www.masoncg.com/Five%20Dysfunctions%20of%20a%20Team.pdf
http://outandequal.org/documents/the_five_dysfunctions.pdf
http://www.governmentresource.com/files/The_Five_Dysfunctions_of_a_Team.pdf
http://www.slideshare.net/rajopadhye/5dys
http://www.slideshare.net/eagleye7/5-dysfunctions-of-a-team

One of the patterns i started seeing with all these special books are that, every time you read you will get an interesting perspective from the book. Its very important to have a list of books that you may want to reread every year.

Happy Learning!!!

People Management : Team

If you are a Manager, your success depends on your team. If you as a team play well you have better chance of succeeding.

The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime. ~ Babe Ruth

Devil Says:  Don’t worry about the team. You can manage the perceptions of your Manager and your client. You always can find a reason to blame the team.

In my opinion, a Manager plays the key role in building the team, groom and makes them perform. Manager is the one who makes or breaks the team.  He/she is the one who connects the various dots and make it a complete picture.

Starts with your Hiring
Your success and the Project’s Success start with Hiring. If you as a Manager put in enough effort in hiring, you have already crossed 50% of your hurdles.

Inducting, Roles Definition and Expectations Setting
Once the person has joined, everything starts with the way a manager inducts team members in the team.  Define the Roles clearly on who will play what. Clearly specify the expectations at the very first week of a new member joining your team.

Example: A Technical Architect managing/leading a Project and the team members. If you are a manager, this is the last thing you want in your life. This clearly says you as a Manager do not have any clue of what you are doing.

It’s not only important to have the right people in your team. It’s more important to have them seated in the right seats ~ Jim Collins

Manage Emotions
Manage your team member’s emotions on a daily basis. People Management is all about managing people Emotions. You are definitely not managing a computer. Be on the floor. Manage by walking around. Get out of your cubicle or cabin and go around the floor. Get a firsthand experience on what’s going on. Make sure your team feels comfortable. When a project gets started it’s natural that people do not understand their roles, have conflicts etc. If their emotions are managed in the right way, I am sure the team will start jelling well.

Managing Projects is all about Managing Emotions ~ Doug Decarlo

Lead by example
Meet your commitments and make sure your team member’s meet their commitments on a daily basis. Meeting commitments helps building trust with each other.

Do not postpone or Cancel meetings with your team members. ~Common Sense

Set a process to address Conflicts between members
Discuss with your team and figure out how they can handle conflicts between themselves. Build a escalation model so that they can come to you only if things are not resolved within themselves.

Power of 1:1s:
Have regular 1:1’s with your team members. I am sure every company today forces you to enter 1:1 data in the system on some interval. I am not talking about that. Have 1:1’s at least once in a month. The reason why you can have only a maximum of 10 or less people reporting is to make sure that you have time to do this and not for reading news papers online.

Review your expectations and goals set, see how things are going. Give Feedback and take feedback.

Listen to get feedback
It’s not only important to listen to your team members only during meetings, but also when you walk around in the floor. Not everyone in the team will give you feedback. There will be casual comments. Take a note of the comments and review them offline. See if there is anything which is a real feedback, take them and work on it. When your team members see that you have taken their feedback and worked on it, obviously you have scored a couple of more brownie points.

High Maintenance Resources

If you have Super stars in your team, have 1:1s with them on a bi-monthly basis. Super Stars are typically High Maintenance Guys. You have a better chance of growing if you know how to manage Super Stars.

Nothing comes free in the world ~ Common Sense

Get Rid of Bad Apples
If you have a non-performing resource or a bad apple who introduces lot of negativity, have some spine and remove them. Don’t just worry only about your billability. If you are the one who is bringing in the negativity, get rid of yourself from the team.

Be a Role Model.

  • Don’t go give gyan to your team members, saying they need to work hard, get things completed on time etc. If your team members do not see you contributing to your project in a meaningful way there is no way they will listen to you.
  • If your team members are working on a weekend or late night, sit next to them and give moral support. Show that you are really interested in the outcome of the project. Don’t inside your cabin and say I am giving moral support.
  • Don’t give suggestions to your team members only when your manager is around. You may get a temporary mileage, but sure it will not last for long.
  • Make sure you give the confidence, if there is anything which goes wrong you take the complete responsibility and protect the team.

Walk the Walk. Talk the Talk

TEAM – TOGETHER EVERYONE ACHIEVES MORE

Happy Learning!!!! 

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Leading is Tough!!!!

Leadership is not easy!!! It is a complex and diverse nature of a role that can at times seem overwhelming. I happened to read this book Thrive on Pressure: Lead and Succeed When Times Get Tough and i liked what the author has listed as the needed qualities and skills of a leader.

I realigned the list a little bit in the way i see it.

Leader
A Must have list for anyone who wants to be a leader!!!!

• Have a clear vision
• See the big picture

• Be a good communicator
• Be a meticulous planner
• Be a good listener
• Be inspiring
• Be intellectually astute
• Be a mentor
• Be a team player
• Be optimistic
• Be self-assured
• Be innovative
• Be a good influencer
• Be a good negotiator
• Be visible
• Be able to give bad news
• Be your own person
• Be determined

• Have a high tolerance for stress and pressure
• Remain calm in the face of adversity
• Have a high level of emotional intelligence
• Know the relevant detail
• Make the right decisions
• Problem solve
• Show passion
• Learn from your mistakes
• Balance the short and long term
• Deliver the strategy
• Ensure change
• Tell it like it is
• Have integrity
• Take risks
• Have charisma
• Role model the organization’s values

• Be a good people manager
• Recruit good people around you
• Trust people
• Instill belief
• Know your people’s names
• Care about your people
• Set goals
• Know what drives your people
• Make people accountable
• Build team spirit
• Show empathy
• Let people make mistakes
• Command loyalty from your people
• Address underperformance
• Empower people
• Handle conflict
• Recognize good performance
• Delegate
• Involve people in decisions
• Coach
• Seek feedback

• Set high expectations
• Deliver the results

Original Source:
Thrive on Pressure: Lead and Succeed When Times Get Tough

Image Source:
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Happy Learning!!!!