Posts Tagged ‘alignment’

Don’t hold back. Do ask.

by Himanshu Jhamb on April 8, 2010

Have you ever been in a situation where you were going to ask for that elusive raise, but did not? Ever been in a situation where you wanted to ask for that extra day of vacation and decided not to? Or that time when you wanted to ask … well! you get the point.

Here’s the thing about asking. Without the act of asking, the world around you simply does not know what you want. Now, I am not saying that by the simple act of asking, you will get what you want. No. Chances are… 9 out of 10 times you won’t because you are probably not very skilled at asking. Even so, what will happen is that the people around you will know what you want… regardless of whether you can get what you are asking for at that time or not. Eventually, there comes a time when you have something they need… and they know the point at which to align with you… and they offer you that. This is where magic happens!

Here’s a small story that speaks to this point:

A friend of mine bootstrapped a company with a couple other partners who said they all would invest some money together, over a period of time. Another friend of theirs wanted to join the company, was willing to invest but was told that he could invest but could not participate as part-owner since he joined a little later. This did not bode well with this fellow and he stuck to his guns aligning the group with what he wanted – to participate in contributing to the business as one of the part-owners. This request was met with repeated declines for more than 2 years… and then the magical moment came. Not all of the original partners could fulfill their commitments of investing what needed to be invested & guess who the remaining partners went to, to fill the gap? Yep! The same friend of theirs who had been consistently asking what he wanted.

Of course, most of the people called this friend of theirs “Lucky”. Reminds me of the popular saying:

Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation

Opportunity knocked on their friends door in the form of the investment needed to keep running the business; Preparation happened all the time with the standing request of participating in the business not as a passive investor but as a player!

One of the quickest lessons I learned as an entrepreneur when I started Active Garage was not to hold back & ask. “What’s the worse that will happen”, said our mentor, Rajesh, “People will say NO or maybe they won’t respond. What have you got to lose?” … and armed with that piece of advice, I asked away. There were more “No’s” than “Yes’s” that came my way but here’s a little secret that they won’t tell you… the No’s have been far better teachers to me than the Yes’s… as they created powerful opportunities for me to grow… and I have a very strange feeling that Rajesh knew that all along!

Oh! … and did I mention you can get all this, too if you just simply STOP holding back and START asking for what you really want!

Quality #8: Best Practices are Contextual

by Tanmay Vora on November 18, 2009

Welcome to the eighth post in this 12-part series on QUALITY, titled #QUALITYtweet – 12 Ideas to Build a Quality Culture.

Here are the first seven posts, in case you would like to go back and take a look:

  1. Quality #1: Quality is a long term differentiator
  2. Quality #2: Cure Precedes Prevention
  3. Quality #3: Great People + Good Processes = Great Quality
  4. Quality #4: Simplifying Processes
  5. Quality #5: Customers are your “Quality Partners”
  6. Quality #6: Knowing what needs improvement
  7. Quality #7: Productivity and Quality

#QUALITYtweet The best practices are contextual – they

worked well for someone in a given context. Are you

applying them in the right context?

Imagine a doctor prescribing a standard medicine based on common symptoms without carefully analyzing other ailments and patient history. A doctor knows the best medicine to cure a particular ailment, but he would look at a patient’s context and then decide if the “best medicine” is really best for a particular patient.

Process managers play a role of doctors for the organizations. They have to identify all possible problems (symptoms) and then suggest a solution (medicine). Best medicines for different types of ailments are termed as “best practices” in business.

Best practices are a set of processes that, in a given context, have the best likelihood of delivering quality products or services. In equation of context identification, some of the variables are:

  • Your goals as an organization
  • Market segment you operate in
  • Your target customers
  • Nature of your product / services
  • Types of customer you already serve
  • Team capabilities and internal alignment
  • Management commitment and sponsorship to improvement initiatives
  • External market pressures (e.g. recession)

The list can go on. Best practices often tend to ignore these variables because they worked in past for someone in a particular context. Their context may be different, but never a static one. Implementing best practice without considering organization’s context is like prescribing a standard medicine without looking into symptoms. Both can be equally dangerous!

So how are best practices useful? Studying best practices can give you some very useful insights on possible solutions for your business challenge. They offer alternative perspectives on ideas that can minimize your risks.

For process improvement experts, having access to best practices can be their biggest asset. But their ability to apply those best practices in an organization’s context is absolutely mandatory for success. As a professional, there is no fun in having a best practice for everything and a solution for nothing!

As an organization, you can leverage best practices by carefully studying them and mapping with your unique business challenges. For this, improvement managers need to understand nuts and bolts of business. Once the context is understood, best practices can become your best guide so that you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Depending on context, you can either implement a best practice as it is or select portions of a best practice that can be most useful for your context.

Simply believing that a best practice will work for you just because it worked for someone else in the past and applying them in vacuum can harm you more than it can help.

There are no silver-bullets in business and things like context and innovation does play a huge role. As one of the Dilbert comic says – “If everyone is doing it, best practices is the same thing as mediocre”.