Archive for September, 2008

Attention Dear Spammers – How about discovering a life for yourself?

September 19, 2008

Over the last few months, my blog seem to have caught attention of spammers. It has been an ardent task for me to go through many comments which are posted on my blog and filter out the un-necessary ones.

I am assuming here that the spam on the blogs are done by some real people – who are already sick and tired of their life – and not by some automated bots.  If my assumption is true – here is my sincere request and appeal to all of them if they happen to read this post. Stay away from my blog.

I am keen in keeping in my blogs simple with just a simple aim of using it as a platform to express my thoughts and communicate with folks who have an opinion on my opinion. I do not intend to call myself as a professional blogger. Also, I am very keen in keeping my blogs free of commericals or advertisements. (Hence you would not see a “Google Adwords” embedded here. )

So, my dear spammers, try to get another life while you already have one. You may think that your trick about engaging with my posts by adding comments like “I agree with you“, “great post“, and then pointing to a spam URL, is smart. But that is so Second Grade‘ish, IMO. I am sure you are smarter than that. Also, I personally do not see much difference between what you guys and the faceless terrorists are doing out there. They attack the regular lives of people by hiding and so do you. Simple!

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Applying Theory of Triple Constraints to Early Stage Products

September 14, 2008

Two things I need to expand upon before I delve into this post. Describe what I mean by ‘Early Stage Products‘ and then expand on ‘Theory of Triple Constraints‘.

While there might be many perceived perceptions of what an ‘Early Stage Product‘ means – for the discussion in this blog I am implying to a product which is typically at a pre-market validation stage. The product is still being conceived and built.  The hope is that after this stage (within our group we refer to it as Version 1.0), the product would be rolled out to its potential users which in-turn would facilitate the potential revenues. The primary goal of products at this stage is to get a real-world market validation – beyond just surveys, interviews, and reports. The organization which is building this product may be a start-up or even an established organization ready to launch a new product offering. Products in this stage may or may not be financially bootstrapped.

Now regarding “Theory of Triple Constraints“! This is nothing new. For anyone who have gone through Project Management – 101, would recall the picture of triangle with Scope, Time, and Money at its node.

Theory of Triple Constraints

Theory of Triple Constraints

Alistair Cockburn refers to it as “Iron Triangle for Software Development“. What the Theory of Constraints is telling us is that there are three variables of a project which one needs to manage for its successful completion – Scope (what needs to be built), Time (time required to get it built) and Money (money required to build to what is there in the Scope in the given Time). Change in any one of the variable can affect another or both of the other variables.

[Few folks have asked me about Quality as the variable. While I have seen this Triangle being morphed to include Quality too, personally I would like to think that in modern-day products, Quality is part of the Scope. Also, with the rising use of Agile ways of Product Development, a lot of assumptions associated with this Triangle are getting questioned. This is a topic for discussion on another day though.]

Now coming to the main topic of this blog – applicability of Theory of Constraints in the development of Early Stage Product considering the real-world constraints under which it is typically developed.  In all my experience of working with products trying to reach Version 1.0, I have seen the following to be always true.

Theory of Triple Constraints - Early Stage Products

Theory of Triple Constraints - Early Stage Products

  • Time to Market: How soon can one take the product to the market or Time-to-Market is the most important driving aspect for 99.99% of the early stage products today. I have left the 0.01% for products which are hopefully going to solve the cancer or hunger problems of the earth. The theory behind Time-to-Market is that because of the ever-changing needs of the consumers or increasing competition, there is a limited window which is available for a product to be launched. So with this, it is essential that the Time variable cannot be (or should not be) changed for such products – at least to the higher side.
  • Limited Cash: As I had stated in one of my previous blog, almost all product entrepreneurs today operate with a limited inflow of money or a fixed budget. This is also constrained because most of the products in this stage do not have the backing of revenues too. Under such scenarios, it becomes extremely important to lock-in the Cost variable too.

So the only variable which now remains is Scope. For anyone who has gone through an experience of the product development, this is one variable you want to keep as a Variable! And this is especially true in early stage products.  Many a times, the scope which is true in the morning may not be true in the evening. Also, any events which affects both Time and Cost, would need to be potentially adjusted by varying the Scope.

During my discussions, many have asked me as to what happens when some Scope has to be fixed from the “Go-To-Market” perspective. However, IMO, if you agree with me in the above para that scope is a variable, this is probably a mute point. Second, if things come to such a stage that all three variables have to be fixed, one of the first thing to assume would be that the initial planning was not upto the mark.

I would welcome your thoughts and comments.

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Paidinterviews – For In-demand People

September 9, 2008

It is always a great feeling when someone you work with very closely achieves a big milestone in their endeavors. We, as part of the Version 1.0 team in GlobalLogic, have had the privilege of seeing many of our Clients achieve that on a regular fashion. It is a proud occasion for us as we also get to share that joy of achievement with them.

Today has been one more such day for us. Paidinterviews went Live with their product today. And the icing on the cake was that their product was also showcased at Demo 2008 today! We have been working with Paidinterviews for about 6 months now, partnering with them on their product development. So in some sense this is also very personal to us.

We met with Jim Weaver and Keith Robison, the two co-founders of Paidinterviews,  slightly more than 6 months back. We were impressed by their thought process which finally resulted in the product they have today. When we started working with Jim & Keith, we knew that Paidinterviews is going to operate in a crowded market space of online job portals and online job search. However, we also felt that none of the existing solutions/services did an effective job of holistically matching a job profile with a candidate profile. Profile matching is simply not just about keyword matching in resumes or experience matching. A lots of dynamics come into picture when a candidate looks at a potential job opportunity or in a vice-versa case when an employer is looking at a potential candidate. Also, there are social aspects too which plays a big role into this matching. This is where Paidinterviews wanted to differentiate themselves and now does a great job in doing that today. In addition to this differentiation, Paidinterviews also wanted to incentivize the job seekers for marketing themselves better. We all thought that was a very cool idea.

Along with Jim and Keith, we built this product from concept to Beta in less than 5 months. We spent a lot of time in thinking about different ways of building the best user experience for all types of users. The product has Rich Interfaces and has been built and deployed using Ruby on Rails on commercial enterprise platforms.

It has been a privilege working with Jim and Keith on this endeavor and our congratulations to both of them on achieving an unique milestone in their long journey.

Read more about Paidinterviews at -

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Complexities associated with Job Titles..

September 7, 2008

Over the last couple of months, there has been many incidences which has made me to think a lot of advantages/dis-advantages of modern day job-titles; what aspects of the job titles do employees crave for; and the needs and its impacts on the modern-day organization. In theory, the main purpose of having a Job Title is to identify one to the other and second to quickly and in short describe the work one does. However, in practicality, it is very difficult to come up with Job Titles which does both.

The purpose of this blog is put some of my thoughts together on this topic based on my experience and what I have read. I do not think, however, that I am as yet qualified to provide any solutions on this topic.

The Ground Reality -

In general, based on several experiences I have come to a conclusion that correlation between reality and Titles is typically very weak. I will take my own case in my current organization. Over the last few years my Title in the organization – or let me say my HR Title – has had a very little correlation with my operational title or the responsibility. (To be very honest even today I have difficulty in remembering what my title is. I know at what grade I am in, however for my title I always have to refer to my HR records. Two or three times, I recollect even my boss asking me – ‘What is your title again?‘). Looking back, I would say that this poor correlation and my indifference to the same has worked out to my advantage. It made me flexible and enabled me to take up various different responsibilities – all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed. Titles can box one up which sometimes can become suffocating. Flip side of poor correlation can be that it can confuse others about yourself. However, IMO, that is okay. Confusion is a temporary thing and can be overcome.

Having said the above, I also realize that the effect of having one Title vs. the another can be very strong when you are in the job market. This, IMO, becomes true when you are standing in a crowded market of people of very similar abilities. Titles may help one to differentiate one from the other.

Title vs. Role -

Are they same? Are they different? I have seen many knowingly/unknowingly confuse between the two. You ask an unknown person – what do you do? Eight of the ten times you would hear “I am a Project Manager” or “I am a Software Engineer” or similar. To think about it, does this answer say anything about your work? IMO, it does not. It is just a Title. Proper answer to the question could have been “I manage a Project wherein we are building a bridge” or “I write software programs in Java“, etc. This is what you do.

Now, coming to Title vs. Role. IMO, the main purpose of Title is outward interfacing to identify one to others, and describes the level of authority and/or skill. Now what a person does in comparision with others in a group is a Role. The words “in comparision with others” is important here. Role helps to sort out who is responsible for what. In a collaborative work environment and from an individual’s perspective, Role is more important than the Title. Because in a constrained environment of a project – the Role may sometimes encompass more or sometimes less than what is prescribed in a Title.

HR Title vs. Operational Title -

As the organization size increases, there is typically a push for standardizing Title categories to facilitate human resources and operations management. This is an internal facet. However, as businesses grows more dynamic, people tend to operate in a continuously changing environment and pick up activities as is needed. This is what I meant by Role above. Driven by the Role, people tend to take up an Operational Title as is required.

“Progress Up” factor associated with Titles -

I came across this interesting article by Tamara J. Erickson (she has authored books on employee values) titled “Do we need Titles?” in Harvard Business Publishing Online. Tamara feels that the aspect of Titles which signifies our progress-up in the organization needs to be thought through again. According to Tamara, this “progress-up” factor in the Title inherently challenges the “numerical pyramid” structure on which today’s organizations are built upon. Here is what she has to say -

Many of the employee-related principles in today’s organizations are predicated on the assumption that the employee population is a numerical pyramid – a small number of older people, a medium number of middle-age people, and a large number of younger people. This was an accurate description of the workforce throughout the Twentieth Century. But, the shape is changing rapidly, moving toward a rectangle – an almost equal number of older and younger people in the workforce. As this change occurs, it will become increasingly impossible to move people “up” often enough to provide enough variety and opportunity for increased compensation.

Do Titles signify progress? -

My quick answer to this is no. Changing Titles do not signify progress, the breadth of your Role does. Unfortunately, I have seen some who consider this as a yardstick of their progress. This, IMHO, is an extremely one-dimensional thinking and can be constraining to an individual’s career. Challenge and variety should be considered as a measure of progress and success. Once again, to quote Tamara from her above article -

What is “progress?” Today many people want to define that for themselves – in terms of what they are learning, how much they’re enjoying the journey, or the vision they have for where they’d like to end up. A path of “progress” defined by the organization is a presumption that everyone would like to follow a similar route.

Linear aspects of Titles -

This seems to be an unfortunate limitation of how the current industry has structured the Title system. One can only go up if your Title has to change or only move laterally. There is an inadequate flexibility or motivation for people to move up or step back or even to move sideways to try out new things.

I would love to hear your thoughts. In my mind the industry has reached to a stage where some of the older practices needs to be “hacked into” as Tamara puts it.

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