May 26, 2011

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Simple questions are potent. They carry power to strike at the root of our assumptions; simpler a question, better the insight, a good answer can give.

Here are my questions to you: 
  • "Are you sweating the small stuff?" 
  • "Yes/No?" 
  • "How do you know either way for sure?"

Do this simple exercise to find answers. List out all the stuff you and your team sweats on and place them on the quadrant (below). 

Something that scores higher on y-axis does more of championing, sponsoring, defining, deciding, course correction and less of routine transactions. 

Business integration (y-axis) is easy to tell: ‘does it help get money in':higher if 'yes'.

(Just like many things in life, it is not yes or no or black or white exercise. Use your judgment to place activities at  places they truly deserve.)

Ask yourself or your team, “Why we do xxx activity?” for each of the activities on the list...

May 19, 2011

Quality - A Place Holder or a Game Changer?

Assumptions are mothers of all hidden factories (not just screw-ups). Carried through years, assumptions protect 'hidden factories' and prevent changes that can bring dramatic improvements.

An expensive assumption that potential customers expect certifications from IT Service providers created hidden factories within Quality that dole out variety of badges at whatever the cost. Soon this became the predominant or the only preoccupation of Quality function in most companies - to seek and obtain certifications of different flavors. Like all hidden factories, this will have negative impact on the competitiveness and profitability - because the assumption that customers look for certifications is not entirely defensible. Customers want their requirements met - customers want return on their investment, they really don't care how many certificates their vendors got.

Shifting focus from certifications and compliance on to...

May 5, 2011

World Without Badges

What happens if US Navy SEALS are ISO9001 certified? Well, this might sound ridiculous, but several police stations in India are certified…not that these two organizations are comparable (far from it). But if they were, SEALS would have definitely asked OBL for his ID and a succession plan before shooting him in the head. Thank god, SEALS don’t carry ISO badge. But that's how Indian police would approach. ISO certification actually gave them something to do for the police - engage some consultant to do some paper work to get another on the wall. There are other, more important things police in India are supposed to do, we all are aware, they are most ineffective in doing that...that is public knowledge too. The ISO badges are just an unpleasant distraction.

But matter of interest is how having or not having ISO badge makes a difference.

May 4, 2011

Quality Conundrum - Pampered Auditor’s Paradox

“Stupid is as stupid does” 
~ Anonymous

Organizations around the world choose auditing firms and pay them  to get certified in ISO standards and to get assessed for CMMI.

These auditors are loyal and understanding folks, especially towards their Indian customers ('hosts' is more apt). They don't mind flying (Of course, business class only) half way across the world, stay, eat, commute, entertain themselves and fly back home all at their hosts’ cost - they audit and certify their hosts as well.

Sometimes,this is despite the audit firm having an office in the country...