Category Archives: Uncategorized

Effects of culture on work practices

I’ve noticed behaviour like this in organizations over the last several years, especially in India (or with those from India working elsewhere)…

Some people don’t respond to a Microsoft Outlook meeting request, especially if there is a conflict or even if they just don’t plan to attend the meeting — Fear of looking bad, or still worse, they don’t want the person who sent the request to feel bad that they aren’t attending his/her meeting!!

(Am sure there are several more examples…will keep adding to this)


How is ‘Design Thinking’ different?

“How is design thinking different from process re-engineering or business consulting?”
BusinessWeek’s Bruce Nussbaum responds in this video (damn thing refused to embed in WordPress!).

I think this answer does help in understanding the differences for the-already-informed, those who at least have bare minimum understanding or awareness about ‘design thinking’ (or similar topics), but it is unlikely to address questions of those who are completely new to it.

In my work, as I talk to several clients in the Indian industry, I see a huge need for simplifying and demystifying these terminologies and communicating them in a much simpler, yet emphatic manner.

These are some of the typical questions I’ve been asked quite often:

  • “So, you do market research?”
  • “My sales team (especially in FMCG companies) are already out there in the field and are meeting customers on a day-to-day basis and observing them. How is this different from that?”
  • “What do you guys finally give us (deliverables)?”
  • “How can you study just 10-20 people and make conclusions about users across the entire country?”
  • “Can you make this process more objective?”
  • “Users don’t know what they want. There’s no point asking them.” (This one is a classic)!

Having said that, (thankfully) there are those clients who’re much more aware, open and even very excited about “alternative” ways of approaching the same old business problems. In fact, when I tell them I don’t do focus groups, some of them actually look relieved! 😉

The Onward Journey

Here’s one blog post that I’ll probably remember for the rest of my life…

Let’s get to the bottomline first. The bottomline is that — Onward Research + Innovation is now closing operations! Yup, I am winding up the business!!

I have found an opportunity to do the same kind of work on a larger platform. Professionally, this is an opportunity for me to up the level of the game that I initiated at Onward, and to learn a lot more about how to run a business (and probably a million other things). And at a personal level, (obviously) this made sense for me from a financial stability point of view as well.

So, what’s this new opportunity?
I am moving to Mindscape, the strategic consumer insights division of Technopak. Technopak, as you maybe aware, is a management consulting company started up by Arvind Singhal in 1991. Mindscape was formed couple of years ago (approximately) and has been doing a lot of interesting work in the area of consumer insights & innovation.

I saw huge synergies in thinking & vision, in their approach to consumer insights & innovation consulting by adopting non-traditional ways – using ethnography, design research, observational studies, participatory design, etc. Given my background and passion (for this kind of work) and their approach, it didn’t take too long before I felt the right kind of chemistry with the Mindscape & Technopak management team.

So, what will I be doing at Mindscape?
My official title will be ‘Associate Vice President’ and my charter is to lead one of Mindscape’s new offerings, “Innovation & Design Insights”. While the actual work on the ground will not be very different from what we were doing at Onward, but being part of a larger outfit like Mindscape will allow us to take on larger assignments, work with better access to resources, and of course bring lots of other obvious advantages of working in a larger establishment.

What happens to my team?
My team (of 2 wonderful, hardworking & highly committed professionals) – Samrat Nawle and Ranjit Singh are moving with me and will be part of my team at Mindscape. They tell me they are quite happy & excited about this big change as well (though Ranjit did take a little longer to initially digest the news considering all this happened just 2 months after he joined Onward & started his non-academic career!!)! 😉

Where are we going to be based out of?
Bangalore, as always. The Mindscape office in in the heart of Bangalore city, 11th floor in UB City on Vittal Mallya Road (yes, overlooking Vijay Mallya’s plush mansion next door)!

How was the journey for me? Did I learn & grow in the process?
Oh YES, BIG TIME! The journey was a roller coaster ride (that’s the best analogy I can think of right now). Like an entrepreneur once told me, “The Highs are High, the Lows are Low”. 🙂 It has been THE most challenging, confronting, exciting, crazy, weird, intense 2 years of my life.

Needless to say, a decision like this isn’t made overnight (heck, it took around 4 months with several sleepless nights!) and isn’t an easy decision for an entrepreneur! I consulted and took feedback from my Advisors/Mentors and several other entrepreneur-friends. And at the end of all that, what matters is that I feel good about this choice. I feel complete about what I have accomplished AND even what I did not accomplish, as an entrepreneur in these last 2 years. 🙂

So, what did I learn in the process?
I actually feel overwhelmed when I think about all those million little and big things I’ve learned in this time. Will definitely write up a separate blog post to do justice to those million things. Stay tuned.

Ok, now that I’m done with answering all these questions…

I have several dozen folks who I need to thank (yes, acceptance speech coming up). Again, stay tuned for a separate detailed post on that one. And finally, this blog will continue. The Fly On The Wall lives on, though probably on a different domain name (need to figure that one).

Thanks for reading, sharing and being (directly/indrectly a part of) the most exciting 2 years of my life. Cheers…

What do we get paid for?

Santosh Desai asks an interesting question —

On what basis do we get paid for the work we do? What determines the monetary worth that our toils merit?

Can’t say I quite agree with the answer —

We get paid not for what we do, but for where we are. Salaries are all about location; the closer one is to money, the more of it one makes. Like the arms dealer who makes a few hundred million dollars for putting the right people in touch with each other, the key is proximity to money. Schoolteachers and college professors sit very far from money, so no matter how much their personal ability or how much value they add to our lives, they earn what they do. The market is impatient with distance; it discounts one’s worth, the further one gets from it.

but it’s an interesting read nevertheless…

The ‘Fly on the Wall’ is a year old!

They say time flies. True. Before I knew it, it’s already been a year since “The Fly on the Wall” was born. 🙂

Here’s some statistics to feel good about (not earth-shattering, but it’s a start)…

  • Total posts: 110
  • Comments: 134
  • Total page views (excluding me): 14,278
  • Number of spam comments: 882

Most popular posts (in terms of traffic; not necessarily my favourite ones):

Popular search keywords leading to this blog:

  • “indian feet” (I still don’t get why people search for “indian feet”!!!)
  • “chevrolet spark”
  • “lord shiva”
  • “car dashboard”
  • “rajini”

What’s in store for the next year:

  • More authors other than me (anybody interested?)
  • More posts (including video-interviews & conversations with interesting people) of research & innovation related topics
  • Sharing more of the (non-client) work we do at Onward
  • More consistent/regular updates
  • Re-design of the blog user interface

Any other suggestions/ideas?

And finally, to all those loyal/faithful/patient/supportive readers of the blog out there, here’s a BIG…THANK YOU!!!!!! 🙂

Nothing is everything

Here’s a fantastic marketing campaign created by my ol’ buddy, Avinash (serial award-winning copywriter at Saatchi & Saatchi, Amsterdam):

Discussion about a whole new web (and BoP users)

There’s a bit of a discussion started on Niti’s blog about a “whole new web”. Check out the comments there, and pls read my earlier post about our research preview (if you haven’t previously), for additional context to some of my comments.