August 13, 2007

The Trusted Advisor

Got a chance to read - the Trusted advisor by David H. Maister et team. Attended Mandel's instructor led course on the same theme, but this book really covers the complexity of being a TA.

Following from Bill Gates: It's important to have someone who you totally trust, who is totally committed, who shares your vision, and yet who has a little bit different set of skills and who also acts as something of a check on you. Some of the ideas you run by him, you know he's going to say 'hey, wait a minute, have you thought about this and that'. The benefit of sparking off somebody who's got that kind of brilliance is that it not only makes business more fun, but it really leads to a lot of success.

The golden rule of TA is 'we should treat others as we wish to be treated'.

There are three basic skills to be a TA - earning trust, giving advice effectively and building relationship.

Some of traits that TA should have are:

1. Seems to understand us, effortlessly and like us
2. Are consistent
3. Always help us see things from fresh prospectives
4. Don't try to force things on us
5. Help us think and separate our logic from our emotions
6. Openness and reliable
7. Active listener
8. Ask hard Q
9. Understanding
10. Respect
11. Responsiveness
12. Access and availability
13. Sense of control

Earning Trust:

The key point is that trust must be earned and deserved. TA should have empathy towards customer and should share the pain points of the customer.

Trust grows and it does rarely develop instantly. Trust is both rational and emotional and it is a two-way relationship.

Giving advice:

This is like a teacher training his students; he should make them understand all aspects of the topic and query them hard questions to know, how much they understood and at the same time, it helps them to come out their silos.

This is termed as Socratic teaching and it is mostly accomplished through questions such as

1. Why do you think we have this issue
2. What options do we have doing things differently
3. What advantages do you foresee for the different options
4. What benefits might come if we tried the following approach

A good process for a TA to follow

1. Give them their options
2. Educate them on these options
3. Give them recommendations
4. Let them choose.

Building relationship:

following are the key principles

Go or do first
Show them without telling them
Listen for what's different, not for what is familiar
Be sure your advice is being sought.
Earn the right to offer advice
Keep asking
Say what do you mean
Show interest in the person/customer
Use compliments
Show appreciations


Apart from those above three skills, TA should have the attitude/mindset for the following

Ability to focus on the other person
Ego strength
Inclusive professionalism

Trust Equation:

T=trustworthiness, C=credibility, R=reliability, I=intimacy, S=Self-orientation

Credibility - Words (eg. I can trust what he says..)
Reliability - Actions (eg. I can trust him to..)
Intimacy - Emotions (eg. I feel confortable discussing this ...)
Self-orientation - Motives (eg. I can trust thet he cares about ...)

Development of trust:

There are 5 steps in the development of a TA

1. Engage
2. Listen actively
3. Frame
4. Envision
5. Commit

This book provides ample illustration and examples of some of the hard questions which works in many situations.

It is important both in your personal and professional life to be a Trusted Advisor which add value in your relationships. This book is a good reference to reach that goal.

August 5, 2007

Wikinomics -Mass collaboration

It is indeed a nice book on mass collaboration and how it changes everything. Written by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams

Interestingly John praised this book as well. The other book John praised is 'The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas L. Friedman. If you get a chance, do read both.

The success of the LAMP stack ( the open source web platform consisting of Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) is pretty much due to mass collaboration effort and considering its huge potential, IBM selected most of them in their high-end products. OS/2 was a flop and hence it was much cheaper to go with Linux.

In order to succeed in 21st century world, product has to be opened for participation. One of the example was SAP who recently went through the process of opening up 30,000 APIs to its market-leading enterprise software platforms.

MIT OpenCourseWare (MIT OCW) is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to put all of the educational materials from its undergraduate- and graduate-level courses online, free and openly available to anyone, anywhere-

Another interesting incident was GoldCorp shared its secret mine excavation reports to Internet and asked experts to provide professional advise on where is the most probable spot for gold mining. The expert exchange helped this firm to survive. Same thing followed in similar path by BMW, Boeing,and Procter and Gamble for seeking expert opinions from anywhere globally. P&G uses for 50% of their new product's R&D.

Google Eric mentions" When you say collaboration, the average 45-year old thinks they know that you are talking about - teams sitting down, having a nice conversation with nice objectives and a nice attitude. That is what collaboration means to most people".

However 21Th century collaboration is radically different. It is peer production where human skill, ingenuity, and intelligence more efficiently and effectively than anything we have witnessed previously. And in the years to come, this new mode of peer production will displace traditional corporation hierarchies as they key engine of wealth creation in the economy.

Web 2.0 - the new web is not a noun, but a verb - living web.
Conventional wisdom says combines innovate, differentiate and compete by doing certain things right; by having superior human capital; protecting their intellectual property fiercely; focusing on customers; thinking globally but acting locally; and examining well.

The new art and science of new economy is based on four powerful ideas - openness, peering, sharing and acting globally.

7 new models of mass collaboration listed in the book, that challenged traditional business paradox.

1.Peer pioneers - the people who brought you open source software and Wikipedia

2. Ideagoras - explains how an emerging marketplace for ideas and inventions.

3. Prosumers - takes you increasingly dynamic world of customer innovation

4. New Alexandrians - who bring you to speed with a new science of sharing. Sharing for science and the science of sharing.

5. Platform for participation - explains how smart companies are opening up their products and technology to create an open stage where large communities of partners can create value and in many cases, create new business. All the world is a stage and you are the star.

6. Global plant floor show how even manufacturing-intensive industries are giving rise to planetary ecosystems for seizing and building physical goods, marking a new phase in the evolution of mass collaboration

7. Wiki Workplace - wraps up the journey with a look at how mass collaboration in taking root in the workplace. Unleashing the power of Us. Collaborative minds - the power of thinking differently.

20th century firms brought innovation within their boundaries for good reasons - R&D was closely aligned with the firms' existing proprietary product and process technologies, its strategy for staying ahead and its market opportunity as it saw them.

Wikinomics design principles:

Taking cues from your lead users
Building critical mass
Supplying an infrastructure for collaboration
Take your time to get the structures and governess right.
Make sure all participating can harvest some value
Abide by community norms
Let the process evolve
Hone your collaboration mind

Few good sites mentioned in the book:

Visit at any point during the day and you get a snapshot of what web surfers find interesting at that moment. which monitors registered blogs.

June 23, 2007

Recent book I read - Deepak Chopra's The Book of Secrets

From Deepak Chopra's The book of secrets

Accident or Intelligence

1. Desert birds living by the Grand Canyon bury thousands of pine nuts in widely scattered locations along the canyon rim. They retrieve this stored food during the winter, returning precisely to the nuts each one buried and finding them under a deep layer of snow.

2. Salmon born in a small stream that feeds the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest swim out to sea. After several years spent roaming vast distances of ocean, they return to span at the precise place where they were born, never winding up in the wrong stream

3. Identical twins hundreds of thousands of miles apart have immediately sensed the moment when their sibling died in an accident.

4. Fireflies in Indonesia numbering in the millions are able to synchronize their flashes over an area of several square miles.

5. In Africa certain trees that are being over foraged can signal other trees miles away to increase the tannin in their leaves, a chemical that makes them inedible to foraging animals. The distant trees receive the message and alter their chemistry accordingly.

6. Mother albatrosses returning to a nesting site with food in their beaks immediately locate their chicks among hundreds of thousands of identical offspring on a crowded beach.

7. Once a year at the full moon several million horseshow crabs emerge together on one beach to mate. They have answered the same call, from depths of the ocean where no light ever penetrates.

8. On their own, sodium and chlorine are deadly poisons. When they combine as salt, form the most basic chemical in support of life.

To read the above sentence, several million neurons in your cerebral cortex had to form an instantaneous pattern that is completely original and never appeared before in your life.

Wisdom you are already living (Internal) and the Wisdom that I wish to exhibit(external):

Higher Purpose:

(I) - Every cell in your body agrees to work for the welfare of the whole; its individual welfare comes second
(E) - I am here to serve. I am here to inspire. I am here to love. I am here to live my truth.

(I) - A cell keeps in touch with every other call.
(E) - I will appreciate someone who does not know that I feel that way.

(I) - Cells adapt from moment to moment.
(E) - I will spend 10 minutes observing instead of speaking

(I) - Cells recognize each other as equally important.
(E) - I will spend 5 minutes thinking about the best qualities of someone I really dislike.

Creativity:(I) - Although every cell has a set of unique functions(liver cells, for e.g), these combine in creative ways
(E) - I will imagine 5 things I could that my family would never expect - and then I will do at least one of them.

(I) - Cells obey the universal cycles of rest and activity
(E) - I will spend 30 minutes in a peaceful place doing nothing except feeling what it is like to exist.

(I) - Cell function with the smallest possible expenditure of energy.
(E) - I will let at least two things out of my control and see what happens

(I) - Due to their common genetic inheritance, cells know that they are fundamentally the same.
(E) When I catch myself looking away from someone, I will remember to look into the person's eyes.

(I) - The primary activity of cells is giving, which maintains the integrity of all other cells.
(E) - I will buy lunch and give it to someone in need on the street

(I) - Cell reproduces in order to pass on their knowledge, experience and talents, withholding nothing from their offspring.
(E) - I will read a scripture about the soul and the promise of life after death.