Category Archives: Organization Culture

Why OKR Implementation Fails

OKR is a management tool helps you to link business priorities with people. Adoption of OKR in companies as a goal-setting framework is still at a nascent stage. In most companies, the age-old KRA and KPIs are used as a goal-setting framework which is more role-centric than business-centric. While implementing the OKR in many companies, we have learned and picked up few things which results in the failure of OKR implementation:

  1. Force fitting KRA & KPI approach in OKR : For OKRs, the input is CEO/business priorities with respect to cash generation, margin, growth and enhancing customer satisfaction & success. For KRA/KPI’s the input source is the Job Description.
  2. CEO and Department Head not getting involved in the process: Since OKR’s is a business-centric approach of goal-setting, leaving the process to HR to someone else in the company will lead to failure. The process starts with CEO defining the Business Priorities that the company has to achieve in that particular financial year, followed by leadership team owning the accountability among themselves on how those priorities will be achieved. And then subsequently, its given to team below the HOD’s. If the leadership team doesn’t get involved in the OKR implementation, the end result will again be a mere formality.
  3. Company-wide lack of communication why we are implementing OKR. The KRA centric approach of goal-setting is there from last 30 years. When implementing the OKR, you need to invest the time in education your people what OKR is and how its different from the KRA approach of goal-setting.
  4. Delaying implementation of OKR when the new financial year start’s:- When the new financial year start’s, leadership teams put up an Annual Operating Plan(AOP).   The output of AOP is your business priorities. Delaying the implementing of OKR  means the delay in putting AOP in action.
  5. Failing to put Monthly/Quarterly Review Process: Unless the cadence of review from top to bottom is not put in the place, people will not take updating the progress on OKR’s seriously.
  6. Not using OKR performance data in your Rewards/Incentives: Failing to link the OKRs with Rewards/Incentives of the individual employee will fail to answer the question for employees “What’s in it for me to help the company implement OKR successfully “.
  7. Not leveraging a tool to implement OKR: OKR helps you to link business priorities with people and helps you to align the teams and individuals better. Implementing the OKR in excel sheet might suit for the small company with the size of 10 to 15 people, but implementing OKR with employee size of more than 20, will increase your administrative time of managing the OKR’s across teams and individuals.

 

Getting ready for the future of performance, Part -2

In Part 1 of this post, we looked at what should be the purpose of your Performance Management(PM). If the core purpose of PM is beyond annual Performance Measurement, keep reading. If you think that process of performance management can be one of those interventions that can help you to achieve higher levels of productivity and performance at the organization, congratulations you are able to realize the potential of PM. At qilo, we call this new potential of PM as Performance Enablement.

Just think of your organization as a machine, a well define PM process can help you to enhance the accountability on running those parts of machine smoothly and helps you to visualize how those parts are working with each other.

Let’s look at how the 3 core processes involved in traditional PM processes can be reinvented:

  • Re-inventing the Goal Setting
  • Re-inventing Manager / Employee Conversations(1-On-1’s)
  • Re-inventing the Acknowledgement and Feedback

Re-inventing the goal setting

The traditional approach to goal setting is to define the goals & KPI’s with respect to roles people play in the company. During the annual ritual of PM process, every person in the organization tries to prove that they have moved beyond what the KPI’s are stating. Here are the flaws of traditional goal setting process :

  • Goals are too longish in nature that it’s difficult to remain focused on them. By the time you finish define the goal, because of the dynamics of the business environment, goal post changes.
  • The KPI achievement is rating and perception driven NOT data driven. Per Phycology Today, humans tend to lie about their performance.
  • Defining KPI weightages add to more confusion and doesn’t help an employee to judge where she should spend her time.
  • KPI’s itself are too subjective in nature defined in a complex way that a normal person can’t understand it.
  • Most of the KPI’s are lag indicators and are not combined with the lead indicators which can tell us more story on why its not achieved what you are supposed to achieve.
  • Word matter. Pick up any goal or KPI statement, most of them are hardly motivating that a person feels like chasing those.

The new way of goal setting should be Agile in nature and should focus on:

  • Shorter duration goals (monthly or quarterly) backed by the action plan on how that goal will be achieved. The action plan will reduce the subjectivity involved.
  • The progress on action plan should be updated on the weekly or monthly basis, which will help reflect how the person is going on the goal, and whether it will be achieved or not.
  • Each goal should be linked to the overall company objectives thus giving visibility to the leadership on how the company is performing on strategic and operations priorities.

While the advantages of setting the Agile goal process are enormous, implementing the agile process at scale need a high level of discipline within the company.  The success of implementing the new way highly depends on the content(which means goals and its action plan) which goes into the system. Otherwise , the new way will also face the same challenges of traditional way which lacks adoption by people.

Re-inventing Manager / Employee Conversations(1-On-1’s)

While the manager-employee conversation is the core to enable employee evolution, most companies don’t know how to facilitate this in right way. In the traditional way of PM, the formal performance discussion between the employee and manager leads to manager justifying the rating given to employee. The successful implementation of manager and employee conversation starts with

  • Training managers on how to conduct a conversation and give feedback to the employee on how to be more productive and perform better.
  • Give the context to the conversation which forces the open-ended discussions between employee and manager.
  • Collect data points from the discussion to check at company level how conversation are going and how managers are leading these conversations.
  • Combine this process of discussion with the Agile process of goal setting so that manager and employee have the conversation about goal progress.

Re-inventing Acknowledgement and Feedback

At the time when you give feedback to your Uber driver by the time you are out of your cab, feedback to an employee is given once a year. Feedback and acknowledgment of the work should be continuous & real time. While setting up the 1-On-1 process and conducting in quarterly will help you to re-invent the wheel of feedback, what if someone has to give feedback to someone after the meeting or a product launch or after a particular event in the company.

The data generated from the agile goal process, 1-On-1 and continuous feedback should generate enough data for you to help understand how your culture, people, and metrics are performing. And as Ray Dalio, famous CEO of Bridgewater Consultants and author of the book Principles says

“If you can’t visualize how your culture, your people, and your metrics are performing, you will inevitably fail to realize your organization potentials and growth”

Blitzscaling 16: Reed Hastings on Building a Streaming Empire

This is my 13th  blog on the notes and my interpretations on the Blitzscaling sessions. In the fall of 2015, Reid Hoffman began taking session called Technology-Enabled Blitzscaling at Stanford University.Blitzscaling is what you do when you need to grow really, really quickly. It’s the science and art of rapidly building out a company to serve a large and usually global market, with the goal of becoming the first mover at scale. And its also about why organization culture is important for Blitzscaling. Because when you’re growing an organization very fast, you have to make people accountable to each other on a horizontal or peer-to-peer basis, and not just vertically and top-down through the hierarchy.

The previous blog related to Blitzscaling is here.

In this session, Reed Hoffman interviewing Reed Hastings, the Co-Founder and CEO of Netflix. And the most sought-after mentor of silicon valley shares his mantras of building the culture and scaling the company.

  1. Netflix culture deck is the most evolved culture decks out their. And here are the details of the deck for you :

  2. Putting your culture in writing not only helps you to get right kind of people in your team, it also makes the entire thing more debatable to get more understanding. At Netflix, every new employee goes through the deck to understand about the company.
  3. With the right kind of density of people in the company, you need less processes to manage them. More the people, more processes are required. Reed call this as “Right Talent Density”.
  4. Your manager should always be giving the context of why they are doing what they are doing. And then just give them autonomy to people to execute freely.
  5. Reed highlighted that NefFlix company culture is different from Google. And he emphasised that one company culture is different from another. Organization culture is an expression of what you and your senior leadership want to be. Thought I believe that while it’s important to define that expression of what you want to be, it is also very important that it should be aligned with what your customer wants from you as an organization.
  6. You can only have a strong culture in your company if you can have a strong & clear mission. The funny thing about mission statements/plan is that “it doesn’t wort rk out most of the time”. But one thing it for-sure helps in to help the current and prospective employees and customers see what company want to achieve in next 5 to 10 years.
  7. When attacked by the big competition, focus on your core rather than expanding the offering; because it will further lead to more fronts to fight the battle.
  8. Being too intellectual to your customer on why you are offering what you are offering doesn’t work, as customer care doesn’t care about that. Your customer care about value, price and service.
  9. “The only prediction about the future that comes out to be true is that prediction itself will be wrong”. When Netflix was seeking funding in 1997,  they thought that online video streaming will pick up in next 5 years by 2002. By the time 2002 came, internet bandwidth was still at the nascent stage. So they thought & projected that by 2007, online streaming will be contributing 50% to their business. But it was still ZERO after 2007.
  10. The right time to become an entrepreneur is when you got the idea that to make it work you are ready to go and touch the poverty line. Or other way around is when you can’t get that idea out of your head for next 1 to 2 years.
  11. You can’t let friendship come in the way of professional or business judgements. So when you are hiring your friends or friends of friends, just make sure of this thing.
  12. Use more data when you are picking stocks, but less data when you are picking your spouse or new hire.
  13. As a CEO, you have to invest in yourself on the continuous basis. Because when you become better, your company become better. As you grow your company, you focus on creating the culture, mission/vision, hiring right guys so that they can hire right guys further. To make this all happen, you need to improve every single day.
  14. There is no right answer whether you can become an entrepreneur or not. From Reed perspective, if you have got a strong grit and if you are a generalist who can do multiple things(most of it will be very boring) for many years to come, you can try your luck.
  15. The biggest mistake you can do in your life or as a founder is try and to be someone else. So all Steve Jobs lovers, it fine to read about him and get inspired, but dont want to be one.
  16. Successful teams and employees act like a sportsman/women. Treating your employees like family means you probably need favour’s from them or want them to work for you cheap.

Book Review: ‘Sell’ By Subroto Bagchi

“To sell is human”. But I used to hate sales and sales guys; because their commitments to customers have caused me and my team spend days and nights in the office working like crazy. Now learning and doing sales myself, I understand the importance of this profession and what it is NOT about.And what sales guys in my previous organizations were missing in their approach. And what we need to improve as a team on the sales front at qilo.

Copywriters Hachette, India
Copywriters Hachette, India

Read this book, if you are able to correlate with my challenges.

Who should read this book: The book will help people who want to improve their understanding of the B2B sales, specifically about technology B2B sales. This book will be more beneficial if you have been involved in sales function from few months, but looking for understanding it more from the perspective of

  • How to improve your prospecting, funnel management and sales process,
  • Importance of consultative approach in B2B sales,
  • EQ management in sales,
  • Impact of your company culture on your sales.

This book is not for: This book is not for people who are specifically looking for a manual or how-to guide on understanding and improving your sales process. But then you only need nuggets from the master like Subroto to tell you what is going wrong in your sales process or what you are missing in your approach.

My learning from this book:-

  • Best sales people never give-up on follow-up’s & having conversations. And in you are an introvert like me and lacks the ability to have conversations, you will have a tough time initially in the sales job. Read a-lot on different topics, about your prospect and what’s happening in the world in general. And slowly you may learn the art of sales.
  • Don’t take rejections at heart. You will get plenty of that in your sales life.
  • Your funnel size decides your conversion rates.
  • As a salesperson, you need to be good at understanding people and what makes them successful.
  • The best line of the book is “The prospecting process has changed. Your future customers are already doing prospecting about you and your company“. Read the book to understand this in detail.
  • There is a thin line between selling and helping the customer find a solution. The minute you sell, your prospect goes to the shell of not sharing their problems and challenges. People like to buy the things rather than being sold the things.
  • Be yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously. Customers want to buy from people who are genuine and comfortable being themselves.
  • The best read is when Subroto shares story “The Naked Burger” when he attended the Apple sales conference. I will buy this book again just to read this chapter.
  • Never ever lose hope while making a deal. But you should have a strong belief in your product and its value, if you don’t have, don’t sell it.
  • We may be living in a digital world with bots and AI, but people still buy from people. Simply quoting data and facts will not appeal to your customer. Humans are beings. Connect to a being to allow your customer to open up. Best line “Authenticity is in short; hence in demand”.
  • Another gem in this book is this chapter “DO IT LIKE SWEDES”. It talks about how progressive companies around the world are embracing the different set of behaviours to influence their organizational culture. Customers want to buy products & services with a certain culture at its core.
  • To build a successful profitable organization, it’s not enough to win few wars (customers). You have to do it for many years to come without excreting yourself. A successful salesperson learns to be effortless by planning well, choosing their turf wisely and prepare themselves to play a long game.

There are only few books on B2B technology sales. And specifically from those who have done sales, and that too large deal sales. It’s definitely worth a read without much heavy weight jargon.

Blitzscaling 15: Diane Greene of VMware on Scaling Product & Culture

This is my 12th  blog on the notes and my interpretations on the Blitzscaling sessions. In the fall of 2015, Reid Hoffman began taking session called Technology-Enabled Blitzscaling at Stanford University.Blitzscaling is what you do when you need to grow really, really quickly. It’s the science and art of rapidly building out a company to serve a large and usually global market, with the goal of becoming the first mover at scale. And its also about why organization culture is important for Blitzscaling. Because when you’re growing an organization very fast, you have to make people accountable to each other on a horizontal or peer-to-peer basis, and not just vertically and top-down through the hierarchy.

The previous blog related to Blitzscaling is here.

Diane Greene was a founder and the CEO of VMware from 1998 until 2008. Currently is senior vice president for Google’s cloud businesses. VMWare was the pioneer and the first successful company to provide software that can enhance the utilization of computer resources, called Virtualization.

  1. Organization culture is important when you scale your organization. And people whom you hire should be aligned with the organization culture.
  2. Help your people to leave if they are not culturally fit for your company. One way to check that is giving them the opportunity to be part of critical conversations early on and see if they are able to match with energies of people
  3. Hire ex-military people if you like them, as they are far more disciplined in their approach towards work
  4. How to bring discipline and reduce chaos in teams: Ask each team members of yours to share what’s going on in their teams by Sunday night. And as a manager, highlight what is important, collate all the notes and share it with everyone in the team.
  5. You can share the same notes with new hires so that they come to know what kind of things are going on in the team.
  6.  It is founder and leadership responsibility to put up a plan on how the team and individuals in the company should communicate with each other.
  7. When establishing your partner network, the strategy is NOT to give special preference to any one of them.
  8. If your salespeople are not giving results, its either you have a bad product market fit or your salespeople are NOT able to perform or messaging is NOT right.
  9. If you have a complex technical product to sell, put a team of 3 people in sales chasing same numbers. These 3 guys will be:
    1.  A guy, who is trying to sell product on phone
    2. A guy who is going & meeting clients and explaining things to customers from technical perspective(also called as solution’s guy)
    3.  And the third guy, who will be closing the deal. All these 3 guys should be chasing the same numbers.
  10. Establishing a partner network will act as your another direct sales channel, but make sure you have a win-win model with them. At VMWare, channel sales partners which are hardware vendors like HP & Bell, every VMware solution they sold, it leads to more hardware sales for extra storage and extra servers.
  11. To create a high-performance culture, hire people who are self-driven at all the levels in all the roles. Self-driven people who set high-expectations from themselves have high expectations from their team too.
  12. Appreciate the behaviors showcased by employees which as a founder you want them to display
  13. An advantage of under promise and overdeliver is not just it gives customers WOW, but also you decide your own pace.
  14. Best advice: “As CEO’s you never overcommunicate”

Power of intent

Intent

Dreams, Vision, Strategy and Plans, all fail…. if you do not have the right intent!

An intent is the most powerful thing in the universe. Before anything comes your intent. You need to be honest and genuine in declaring your intent and the universe will work towards it to make it happen.

While we all agree to the power of intent, the paradox is we do not follow the same, when we run our organizations.

Leaders have to announce their intent and ensure to make it loud. Once you do that, magic will happen – your teams will be connected with you. They will work collectively and purposefully in making your intent happen!

Leaders normally focus more on achievements, not on their intent – why are they doing what they are doing and most importantly, what is the intent?

Yesterday I was having a discussion with a CEO and his intent was to make substantial revenues to fund his social venture. And my question to him was has he announced this intent with the team? And the answer was no.

Intent sometimes gets mislead by vision, goals. Actually, it’s the statement you make to the universe at a consciousness level and if you are genuine and honest you will for sure unlock the power of the universe.

Sometimes our reasonable self-becomes our dominant personality. And we start putting logics, connecting the dots and overthinking. Actually, all we need to do is answer a simple question, what’s your intent?

Intent comes from your consciousness not from your brain and at that level you are the clearest and transparent.

With intent comes the purpose, which binds everyone together and everyone starts exhibiting ownership and accountability behaviours.

So, announce your intent to your team next when you speak and see the magic unfolds.