Such is the nature of a business that the founder or the caretaker always lives in the shadow of fear. There is constant fear of not being able to survive. Then one fears about not getting the right employees. Then one fears if employees are working hard enough to give results. One fears of not being able to pay enough which might make them leave for Greene pastures. Fear of upsetting the client. The list goes on, making the life of the guy running the business more and more difficult. In response to the fear people pick up work or develop products which they think might provide them with the finances to maintain the infrastructure comprising of office, chairs, few computers. Services are offered as per the client's whims and fancies because it will get salaries for the team. One tries to make office better so that employees do not feel as if they are deprived. One is more open to discussion and feedback so that the lack of it might not help employees to perform. Founders and especially those who bootstrap also go a step ahead and spend money on food and outings to keep the flock happy. The above response only muddles up things. Firstly the work coming to the organisation comes with its riders like endless nitpicking ( speaking for services), delay in payment and shameful attitude of the clients. Then internally one sees that the team starts slacking such as missing the deadlines and starts coming up with the excuses of lack of resources. The freedom is misused as one will find employees not wanting to upgrade themselves but indulging in never ending gossips and silly pursuits. One ignores in good faith that the freedom will make employees appreciate and perform. Important instructions are ignored, arguments become commonplace and focus starts to wear away. And then comes the time to get salaries when each of the employees feel they have performed better and need to be paid for the same. It's never too late to realise the rot which is setting in and act upon it. The lessons learnt from the experience are very very valuable ones and only help in the long run. Therefore first things first the leader needs to choose the right businesses and the right clients. Secondly choose the right employees and tell them very clearly that in a small company there is no place for slacking, excuses and bickering. One can relax in the cool climes of the bigger companies. And yes lastly one needs to confront the fear, face it , not run away from it and from that comes an understanding which is to prioritise and look for the right reasons to run the business. From such fearlessness will come the strength to take right decisions and journey on the right path will begin. It might sound easy, but it is not.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Focus. One word but it only goes deeper and deeper. If you say focus the first thing which comes to mind is a camera in hand and looking at some object to shoot. Now, either you can capture the entire panorama or you can capture the claw of the discreet bird, hiding behind the bush, taking a nap. While the first situation implies that it lacks focus, the other situation implies lack of it. Not exactly. What if the guy wants to capture the colours of the spring or the fall, or the other person is just aimlessly flirting with the lens? The other very popular mythological story goes that teacher Drona asked every one to aim at the bird. Then he asked his disciples where did they exactly aim? Everyone except Arjuna the archer were not aiming at the bird's eye. Is that the focus? Or if you are managing an outfit, startup, team, platform the word focus is largely about delivering a set of task on time. Or one has to focus towards getting the next job to be able to afford a car, house, vacations etc. Or people just focus for focus sake. So, what can one really infer from this word focus? For me focus is the culmination of a process of understanding one's immediate surrounding, trying to figure out if it makes any sense and then being able to prioritise and act. Yes, just act. However the process is not in order as one of the things mentioned can happen simultaneously or in absence of others. But the most important things is to be able to weed out nonessentials and channelise the energies to do one important thing at that point of time. But there is a catch, though it is advisable to act with all the conviction and surety, one should be ready to change course if the need be and re focus. For example we are working on a CMS for one of our clients. We were discussing the features for the CMS, which started as a small list of things required and then started to add one feature or the other to the list to make it better, bigger and smarter. After a while we realised that we were building a bigger and better CMS, and not a tool to manage the content as per the project's requirement. And finally we decided to stick to the features which would serve the very basic function of creating content, storing content and publishing it. That's one of the reasons I like Posterous. Similarly when we think of a Content Strategy for a brand or clients, we pursue the same approach. We avoid the generic themes of lifestyle, travel, health, news etc. Instead we focus on one message which should permeate through all the sections and the content pieces. I really admire www.good.is , www.designtaxi, www.clifbar.com and www.creativeschoolofthought.com for the clarity in their message. So, one word and if properly understood will save a lot of time and puts nearly most of the things on track. Focus! Focus! Focus!
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Look to this day: For it is life, the very life of life. In its brief course Lie all the verities and realities of your existence. The bliss of growth, The glory of action, The splendour of achievement Are but experiences of time. For yesterday is but a dream And tomorrow is only a vision; And today well-lived, makes Yesterday a dream of happiness And every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well therefore to this day; Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!