Monday, November 7, 2016


I started 3 initiatives in last 2 months, but nobody is cares.

I had setup process to update the project documentation where every team member needs to update it on a regular basis, but no one is doing it.

Oh, we have started with this campaign of blah-blah-blah for last 2 months, but hardly any one contributes.

Sounds very common, isn't it? Ask a simple question to yourself, did you onboard the stakeholders? Did you take their buy-in?

Did you explain the reasoning and logic behind your expectation to them? If not, then don't expect them to contribute. If you do not take effort to "onboard" each and every stakeholder with your initiative, you set it up for failure. 

And yes, same is true in your personal life too. Thinking of cleaning up the entire house this weekend? Ensure that you have onboarded your spouse, children and other family members. Else be ready for no-contribution or half-hearted contributions. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Google Graveyard

It's interesting to know how many products just go in the graveyard. Some created a big impact on the way we use the internet, some didn't really make the cut.

Google Reader made the recent entry to the Google graveyard and WordStream has put together nice inforgraphic. Check it out:

Google Graveyard: A List of Google Products That Were Discontinued [INFOGRAPHIC]
© WordStream, an AdWords partner.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Can RFID help physical stores in survival?

It looks like physical stores still form the majority chunk of the retail, but are growing very slowly and are struggling to compete with online stores.

Online stores aka e-commerce players are equipped with huge ammunition of customer knowledge as compared to the physical stores. Physical stores enjoy the intimacy and personal relationships with customers which e-commerce players do not. The way e-commerce players can track the consumer behavior on their site, physical store can not. And if physical stores decide to do something similar, it will become absolutely intrusive, driving the customers away from the store.

For the uninitiated ones, the e-commerce site keeps on tracking every click that you make on their site, thereby collecting huge data. This is completely transparent to the visitor and hence is not at all intrusive. Now imagine what would a physical store need to do to track its cusomters' behavior? Install CC TV cameras all across the store? Send one of your staff members along with every customer? Or give a google glass to every customer? Not possible, right? All these mechanisms will drive the customers away for the fear of loss of privacy. Is there a better way for these stores?

Probably RFID could be of help. What if every customer is handed over a bag at the entrance or a simple tag, which she needs to carry it through out the presence in the store and return it at the billing counter? RFID could be tracked through various RFID readers installed across the store, which could be hidden from customers' eyes. When the tag is returned, it could be mapped to the bill generated, if the person purchases something. Even otherwise, it could give you the path taken by the customer in your store and possibly could also tell you the time spent in each section. 

Not sure if there are portable, miniature sized RFID readers, if yes, then this concept could be taken a step further. The customers could be equipped with the RFID tag + reader. Now when the customer picks up any item (item is expected to be RFID tagged), the on-person-reader detects the picked up item and records it.

This will enable the physical stores with very valuable data such as:

  • Most common path taken by the consumers
  • Which products get picked up by the consumers?
  • What is the conversion rate once the product is picked up by the consumer?
  • What are the areas where consumers spend more time?
In the article "To Catch Up With E-tail, Tools to Track Shoppers in the Store" it mentions tools like Video surveillance and the data mining of the videos captured. But I believe the RFID could be way better since it maintains the anonymity until you actually make a purchase and is completely transparent to the consumer.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Avoiding The Reminders From Your Manager

You might have seen your manager sending out reminders all the time and you might have really wished not to receive a single one. It would save a lot of time embarrassment if you could remember all such tasks, complete them at the required time and then inform it to your manager. This majorly falls in the domain of effective time management, but the intent of this article is more towards the usage of available tools rather than preaching effective time management.

1. Use a notepad - Simplest but somewhat inefficient and ineffective way. This will not give you any automatic reminder and is not useful apart from serving as a to-do list. However, since notebook is easily available to each one of us, it can/should be used to at least note down the to-do items. This should further be followed up with appropriate reminder mechanism mentioned below. [Recommended reading for managing ToDos -]

2. Email Reminder – Outlook allows you to set a reminder flag. Right click on the “Flag status” and choose “Add Reminder”. This will throw a pop-up which will allow you set the reminder for required date and time. Once set, the reminder will appear in the reminder window at the set time. Note that if you just “Flag” the message for follow-up, it will NOT give you any reminder service.

3. Outlook Task– Outlook also allows you to add a task with a specific reminder setting. You can add recursive tasks with various combinations of recursion. Once set, this also gets popped up in the reminder box.

4. Schedule an appointment in the calendar– Plan your day in advance. Assign appropriate time slots to the tasks at hand. The moment you make an entry in the calendar, Outlook will automatically set the reminder to a pre-defined time (usually 15 mins before the slot) and you will get a pop-up for the reminder.

5. Configure Recurring events– Outlook Tasks and Calendar Appointments can be scheduled as recurring entities and hence come handy for daily, weekly or monthly activities. For example – I have set recurring reminder for completion of Project Assessment Report on “First Tues of every month”.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Five Pronged Management

This is something that I learnt from one of the management training that I attended. When put in practice, I could see that it really works!!

When you are at your job, be it a managerial role or not, you need to keep on attending in many different directions. Typically we end up paying attention to our management, customers and the team and forget the rest two. Let’s go over these different areas one by one.

1. Upwards

This is a no-brainer. You need to meet the expectations that your managers have set for you. If you cannot help them succeed, there are rare chances that you can grow in your career. You immediate manager would have some set of expectations whereas your super manager would be expecting something additional. You organization management has some goals which you are expected to contribute in some or the other way. This calls for a lot of balancing act, but it’s only part of a big picture.

2. Outwards

This includes managing expectations with your customers. Your customers could be internal, external, organizations, or individual end users. As a solutions provider, service provider, you always need to keep in mind their expectations from your product/service. If your product/service is not going to solve their problem at hand, why would they embrace you?

3. Downwards

You would need a team to execute your ideas, to put up a quick prototype, to create a sales pitch or to create a kick ass demo. You surely can do it all yourself, but, if you collaborate with it’s going to make it time efficient and you can concentrate on something far more important.

4. Sideways

You work in an environment where collaboration can help you immensely. And to achieve that, it is really important to manage your communication, interaction with your Peers. When it comes to recognition, nothing helps like peer acceptance. If you are eying for that specific post and the corresponding manager/head gets to know about your demonstrated capabilities through your peers, it will give you an edge over others. Work with your peers and work on your peers. Both things are important.

5. Inwards

This is the most important direction which is usually overlooked by almost each one of us. However, the truth is, if we can’t manage ourselves, how good we be at managing something external? Inner discipline leads to external success. Take out time for your own sake, however busy your external schedule is. Decide your priorities in your personal life and give equal, if not more, importance to them as your external commitments.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Me: “Anil and Saurav, let’s discuss how we handled the call today. Could we do it immediately?”

Anil (Experience Team lead): “Sure, Mandar. Let’s do it now”.

Me: “Saurav, what do you think about the call today? Did it go well? What do you think?”

Saurav (Recently started leading the team): “I think it went okay. We covered the points, we wanted to. I stumbled at few places.”

Anil: “Not really. We had carved out the structure of the call in our meeting prior to the call. However, you were appearing not-so-confident while you were talking to the customer. For every sentence, you were looking at me for confirmation or you were asking “correct?”"

Me: “Yes, Anil is right. Even if you were making a statement, it was being posed as a question, leaving the person on the other end clueless”

Dialogs like this are not rare while handling a team, however, at the same time, I must say they are not so common as well. Many project managers make it a point to provide the feedback to the team members, and many keep on procrastinating. This post is to bring about some important aspects of sharing the feedback.

1. Chose correct time

It is important to provide the feedback at the right time and the right time is always “as soon as possible.” In the example above, I chose to discuss the feedback immediately after the call, because I wanted Saurav to start pondering about this immediately. If he does so, I can hope to see the change in next 3-4 calls, but if I don’t, then there’s no way Saurav would know about this as a problem and would continue to communicate in the same fashion.

2. Receptive minds

To have a positive impact of the feedback, the recipient needs to be in a state to receive the feedback. Not every individual is open to receive the feedback. The manager needs to take extra effort to bring that individual to a state of mind where he/she can understand the feedback. If this is done, only then you can expect some corrective action to happen. If the individual is not in receptive state, he/she may start arguing, defending or just close himself/herself and whatever is being told, would go down the drain.

3. Frequency

The frequency for the feedback needs to be adjusted per individual. Some of them like to hear often than rest. While it is okay to fine tune the frequency per individual, it shouldn’t go below certain threshold.

4. Prepare

It is equally important that you prepare yourself for providing the feedback. You need to have all the observations noted down for handy reference, or have all the examples handy with you. One needs to interwoven these examples in order to make the recipient understand the real essence of the feedback. The examples, in itself, can be debated individually, but when more than one such examples are considered, they show a pattern and which is very important to provide feedback on.

5. Strengths/Areas of improvements

Lot of management trainings emphasize on starting with positive points and to gel it with areas of improvement to achieve better results. However, in my personal experience, what matters is the rapport with the recipient. If your team knows that you praise them for all the good things done from time to time, I haven’t seen people complaining when only areas of improvements are conveyed to them. If you are working with a new person, new team, then probably mixing the positive points and improvements together will have more impact, but apart from that, it doesn’t really make much difference.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Take care of your team

Needless to say, that’s the most important thing any project manager needs to do. Your team is your asset. Each one of you brings in different set of qualities, experience, expertise. Each project manager needs to know about that.

Here are few things a project manager could/should do for his/her team:

  1. Identify your key members
    • You need to know each of your key members to the maximum extent.
    • Do the SWOT analysis for them and use it during your conversations with them.

  2. Regular meetings with your key members
    • Make sure you talk to those individuals on a regular basis in a structured meeting where you discuss the strengths, weaknesses, achievements, goals, alignment with project goals etc.
    • Also talk to them about their key members. This will give you a deeper view into their teams.
    • Seek feedback for yourself and for projects. Make sure you take appropriate action on that feedback and it gets communicated to those individuals.

  3. Informal meetings with a diverse group within your team
    • These meetings have good potential to bring out if something is going wrong within the team.
    • Arrange some team events where people open up, talk about their personal likes/dislikes. Grab an opportunity to know them more.

  4. Do little things that make your team happy
    • You announced a very good release – get some goodies for the team. Have a quick meeting, praise them openly and let everyone know that you appreciate their effort.
    • Remember important days in their lives – birthdays, anniversaries, kid’s birthdays etc.

Bottom line – it is a recurring investment, more you pay [attention], more you reap the benefits.