Building an organization – The Chennai Super Kings way

For those who have been following the recently concluded IPL, the Chennai Super Kings win should have come as no surprise. They were the most consistent team and played every inch the champions that they are. I can think of quite a few areas where businesses can learn from the way CSK played and won. Though Im a big CSK fan, Im not a CSK insider and the following are my observations based on the way Ive seen them play.

1. A strong leadership – Its all nice to say, that the leader is just as good as the team, but that hugely undermines the expectations from a leader. The leader’s role is to ensure that the whole is more than the sum of the parts. He has to understand how each member of his team fits in and help them actualize their potential. Dhoni has done a great job is bringing out the best in the guys. Secondly, when the going gets tough, the team turns to the leader to provide the direction and MSD comes across as someone in control even when the chips are down.

2. Its about the team…. not about the individuals – The CSK team won no individual awards… They don’t have the highest run getter, not the highest wicket taker and not the best individual performance. But won all the team awards that matter, the cup itself and the fair play award. While the 2 top scorers in the tournament were from Bangalore, Chennai had 5 among the top 15 (which indicates a group of strong performers – in fact there are no Chennai batsman in the top 4). The top wicket taker list reads a similar story. I think over the course of the tournament, 6 or 7 individuals from CSK won the Man of the Match award for the various matches (I haven’t checked the exact number).

3. Its as much about continuity as much as about talent – CSK retained almost all their players from the previous season. While this might have come in the way of their acquiring new talent, the focus seems to have been on keeping the winning unit together. Given the option between a star studded team and a team that gels well as a unit, I would any day pick the latter. CSK also played the same playing 11 for the last 7 matches… no chopping and changing. This sends a strong signal to the 11 that they are being backed well and can go and “express” themselves on the field.

4. Its about the role…. not the designation – Bollinger is not the “Opening Bowler” (which is a designation), he’s a bowler who gets the ball when the conditions are good for a fast aggressive bowler (which is a role). On a spinning wicket, Ashwin would be the Opening Bowler. Badrinath is the anchor (a role), and would come in to steady the ship when quick wickets have fallen, while Dhoni would promote himself when a strong platform has been built – to go in and capitalize. So, each player knows his “role” and is expected to perform that role under a given circumstance. An organization should be no different. Its about people being clear about their “roles” and performing it.

5. Think through YOUR strategy and play to YOUR strengths – The conventional wisdom in 20:20 seems to be go all blazing right from the word go. CSK’s strategy on the other hand seems to have been to build a platform over the first 2/3rd to the innings and then push the needle up in the last third. Many of their starts have resembled a test match. However, their batting in the last 5 or 6 overs in most of their matches has been characterized by raw violence. This strategy is in line with their strength of having big hitters in the lower order. You don’t build the next Google, by doing exactly the same things that Google does. Evolve your own strategy.

6. Its not just about winning… its also about how you play – CSK also won the fair play award… for the second year running. Sledging and ranting, which costing you fair play points, also adversely impact the way you play. Ask John McEnroe how many times his temper tantrums have cost him the match (his elusive 1984 French Open being the biggest price).

7. Be humble – Dhoni and CSK have pretty much won everything in sight for the last couple of years. While this team exhibits a strong self assured calm, there is no hint of arrogance. The attitude seems to be to take each game as it comes and do you best…. which is a great way for an organization to go about being successful. Things change fast in a business and it does pay to have a steady head on your shoulders.


– NWritings

Related link: Reflections on IPL (First edition)

Innovation – Type 3 – Internal process [Case: Narayana Hrudayalaya]

The third part of our ‘ten part’ innovation series, we look at Narayana Hrudayalaya, founded by Dr. Devi Shetty. In a country where heart disease is prevalent and affordability is a challenge, Dr.Shetty’s organization is able to break the barrier of cost by innovating in the internal process. The cost advantage achieved is not by compromising the quality. After all everybody understand the value of human heart.

The word ‘process’ in most of the cases perceived as boring, procedure oriented and mundane set of procedures, thereby planting monotonous perception among professionals. On the contrary, having a robust process defined and executing around them can bring in life changing differences to organizations. Bangalore based Narayana Hrudayalaya has innovated on the very same area thereby making the cardiac healthcare affordable globally. Founded by renowned cardiologist Dr. Devi Shetty in the year 2001, this Bangalore based hospital has re-inventing the way cardiac healthcare is perceived around the globe.

In Narayana Hrudayalaya patients are charged flat $1500 (about 75000 rupees) for heart surgeries compared to $4500 (about 2,25,000 rupees) that other heart hospitals charge on average. These numbers get all the more interesting when it is compared with the US where an average heart surgery costs $45000 (about 22,50,000 rupees). Added to that Narayana Hrudayalaya has an innovative medical insurance scheme under which people who can’t afford to pay can be covered. The astonishing point to note here is low price doesn’t mean that the quality is compromised. It has amazing 95% success rate in heart surgeries and one of the well renowned hospitals for pediatric cardiac care. Ranging from Harvard business school to management guru C.K.Prahalad, has done case studies around this internal process innovation.

Narayana Hrudayalaya
Narayana Hrudayalaya

The first element of process innovation comes from what is known as ‘vertical’ approach towards specialization. Doctors here are highly specialized in cardiology, which means they can perform a specific aspect in a much better and faster than others with generic skills. This specialty helps Narayana Hrudayalaya to attract patients, motivated health-care professionals and donors. This is way different from what is popularly known as ‘multi specialty hospitals’ treating variety of diseases. If super specialization was the first element the second one is about deskilling few elements in the cardiac healthcare in such a way that is brings in drastic different in terms of time. Narayana Hrudayalaya has recruited women with high school education and trains them in taking echocardiograms of patients, which is performed by trained doctors generally. As they perform only this task day in and day out by acquiring a very specialized skill, unblocks doctors perform higher complex activities. With these innovations around internal processes, Narayana Hrudayalaya performs 23 cardiac surgeries per day compared with four to five performed by other major hospitals. This ‘high volume’ in turn helps them to grow the business by charging ‘low cost’ for their patients.

In order to have wider reach with patients, Narayana Hrudayalaya has partnered with ISRO to launch Telemedicine services. With the inception of the program, it has been implemented in the remote areas of north eastern states of Tripura, Nagaland and in south Indian state of Karnataka by connecting them using INSAT satellite. While ISRO provides the software, hardware and communication equipment as well as satellite bandwidth, the specialty hospitals provide the infrastructure, manpower and maintain the system. Thanks to this advanced technology the telemedicine network has grown into 165 hospitals.

The core idea of ‘affordable’ healthcare is made available to remote villages thanks to Narayana Hrudayala’s innovation around internal process. This innovation has resulted in overall profit margin of 19.5%, which offers viable and significant business proposition as well. This is one great example for ‘Business with a heart’.

Related links:

[Introduction to ten types of Innovation]
[Innovation – Type 1 – RangDe]
[Innovation – Type 2 – RedBus]

What happened to Simputer?

More often I hear so much buzz around ‘providing computing facilities for rural India’. While definitely there is a market, there are hardly any success stories. In my opinions value proposition should go beyond providing something technically superior to harness the real potential of this market. The Simputer is one of the early technology products to make an attempt in this direction, which eventually resulted in a commercial failure.  Here goes a brief history of Simputer –  In 1999, Simputer was invented a team comprised of professors from IISc and volunteers who formed the Simputer trust to build the software using Open Source technologies. The Simputer name was derived from ‘simple, inexpensive and multilingual people’s computer’, which was primarily aimed at providing technology for rural people. In the year 2002 the first commercial version was made available with two manufacturers signing up for making large scale production.


The Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), a Bangalore based public sector organization, was chosen as one of the primary manufacturers. According to initial projections the Simputer was targeting to sell 50,000 units by 2005 but ended up selling only 5000 units. Sparing the few commercial deployments like Bangalore traffic police, the project didn’t create the commercial impact that it is supposed to do. Put in simple words Simputer is similar to iPhone in India – great technology innovation, generated initial hype but a commercial failure. From a technological standpoint it had all the necessary aspects. Open Source software with free GPL, Voice to text conversion software for taking the input from rural consumers, Stylus based navigation system for easy user access.

On the commercial front, the cost of ownership of a Simputer acted as a major barrier for rural people to adapt the device. Priced about 12,500 rupees, affordability of the device took a backseat. At the same time, the mobile revolution started taking off with much sophisticated phones hitting the market along with much more functionality. For small scale manufactures it was too costly to procure a license of Simputer by paying about ten Lakh rupees. There was not much support from government also to promote the usage of the device. The ecosystem built around the Simputer is also not all that great. One of my friends purchased a simputer , but the support system was so bad that he didn’t get a response for his queries for more than a month.

Cut to 2011. I was talking with a professor from one of the IITs, who mentioned about the $35 Android based device that Ministry of Human Resource Development is trying to promote. The idea is to connect these devices via 3G and build a app store ecosystem (with regional language support), thereby providing computing access to rural part of India. While the idea definitely sounds good, I sincerely hope this shouldn’t become another Simputer story.

Anyways, here are some of the (un-answered) questions running in my mind:

  1. Do people in rural part of the country really need such devices? If at all there is a need, what is the primary motivation for it (factors – get information, ease of use, eager to join the digital society?)
  2. What are the key factors (pricing, user-experience, power consumption, distribution & support) should be considered to build a strong ecosystem?
  3. What is the role of educational institutions and government in building such ecosystem?
  4. What are the innovative business models can emerge from this market?

The Product Manager and the Business Owner

I see a lot of instances where these 2 roles are somehow being confused, leading to insufficient attention being paid to these roles. The purpose of this post is to call out the distinction between these roles for sake of clarity. Let us put in my thoughts on how these roles are different.

Business owner – Responsible for assessing the market opportunity, identifying target customer segment, setting revenue targets, putting together the sales / support strategy and overall scaling the business. The Business Owner role largely operates in the WHY realm. WHY is this market worth going after? WHY are we, as a business, best equipped to do this? WHY does this constitute a strong long term play for the business?
In a small company or a single product company, the CEO may well be the Business Owner.

Product Manager – Responsible for building the right product to enable the business to meet these targets, Ensuring that the product built has an USP or a differentiator among alternatives present in the market. Demonstrates, through live instances, that the product actually solves the customer need that it sets out to solve. The Product Manager role largely operates in the WHAT realm. WHAT is the right product / solution to address this market need? WHAT is the best user experience to be built? WHAT does your product deliver that others in the market dont? WHAT is the right go to market strategy?

The extension of this would be to look at Engineering Head as the HOW guy, but let me just stick to the PM and Business Owner here.

These roles may have their own independent reporting structure, but need to work very closely together to build a successful business.

Many Product Manager profiles and job descriptions that you see are a “hybrid” of both and for smaller businesses the same person doubles up as the PM and the Business Owner. While there is nothing wrong with you doing that, understanding the distinction between these roles is important. It is critical to keep a check on the extent of your focus on each of these and be aware of the balance. For a business in scale both these are huge focus areas and need dedicated mind share.

To start with you can take up both the WHY and the WHAT, but have a good sense on WHEN you want to hire someone who can complement you on this.


– NWritings

Performance management – How to give effective feedback?

Providing effective feedback for others is one of the key elements in performance management. It is possibly the best way to help others grow in their careers. Based on my experience I have come up with a presentation which talks about top 5 things to take care when giving feedback:

  1. Devil is in the details
  2. How providing examples is key?
  3. Negative feedback is not bad
  4. Subjective vs Objective
  5. Give recommendations

Let me know you ‘feedback’ for this presentation on ‘feedback’ 🙂


Innovation – Type 2 – Network and Alliances [Case: RedBus]

Related links: [Introduction] [Innovation – Type 1]

The second part of our ‘ten part’ innovation series, we look at Bangalore based bus ticketing company RedBus and map how it is innovating through forming Networks and Alliances.



The idea of private luxury bus service has proven to be successful for quite sometime now. Corporate helpdesks have been setup to help employees book their tickets have been unsuccessful, when brokers started to block bulk tickets directly during festive seasons, which are sold at an atrocious price later. On the other side bus service providers were also helpless because of the lack of a channel through which they can reach out to customers directly. This led to a desperate need for a ticketing platform bridging the bus service providers and customers.

RedBus ( did just that by creating a platform for purchasing bus tickets. The venture started off with a capital of 5 lakh rupees, RedBus partnered with multiple private bus service providers by bringing their ticketing information online. Backed up by a strongly back-end system, this new platform was able to make bus ticket purchase easy with minimal service charge. This by effectively building a network of bus service providers and by also forging strong alliances with them. RedBus has today emerged as the single largest platform in India for bus tickets. Below, is a list of innovations by RedBus:

First, RedBus integrated the fragmented bus service providers through a common platform backed by technology. For a ‘not-so-tech-savvy’ service provider hosting and maintaining an online ticketing platform is a task, which only established players (example: KSRTC, KPN) have been able to do successfully thanks to their large network. The integration became a huge success mainly due to the large scale alliances formed with the service providers, which offered more options to customers to choose from. As the platform became successful, more and more service providers signed-up to rake in on this huge opportunity.

RedBus created multiple ordering channels associated with appropriate delivery mechanisms for customers. For example customers can place an order through phone, online or their mobile phone (SMS as mobile application) which opened up the market for travelers who don’t have access to internet. The delivery side also offered multiple options for customers like door delivery, online receipt printing and mobile confirmation number depending on the ordering channel chosen.

The RedBus website was one of the well designed e-commerce website which stressed on the user experience. This simple, intuitive and easy to use website allows customers to purchase tickets within minutes where one does not need to create a login id. Thanks to this careful yet simple design, it was also has successfully scaled to providing vernacular language interface as well. Today it has interfaces in Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil which is very critical to capture tier two and tier three markets where English is an entry barrier.

The network through the bus service providers is getting leveraged for providing other value added services like group bus hire, going beyond just providing bus tickets for individuals. This could create multiple future opportunities which are yet to be unlocked. In some way RedBus can be compared with what IRCTC has done for train tickets in India, but it is different in the way they went about implementing it – by forming network and alliances.

Today RedBus has more than 500 bus service providers covering over 5000 plus routes across India. It is ever growing and definitely offers more compelling opportunities in the future. As their website claims, “India is beautiful — Experience it by road”.

Third sex, Third class, Third world

Let us talk about ‘Hijras’, known as ‘chakka’, ‘ali’, ‘napunsak’ depending on the state/language you belong to.


There is very little understanding among educated, elite Indians about life of Hijra. We normally see them begging in trains by showing strange gestures, which is often not accepted according to our societal norms. Our media (be it print, broadcast or movies) project them as strange characters, mainly associated with unusual sexual activities. In northern part of India I understand they are called during marriages for giving dance performance. One of my school friends, a qualified physician was the first one to provide some insights into Hijras, thanks to his education and experience in working with a bunch of NGOs. Upon our further discussion, we felt how non-inclusive our society is. We may boast ourselves having a rich culture and heritage (popularly known as bharathiya sanskruti), but have a long way to go!

Hijras are born male, who converted themselves into female by getting rid of male genitals. While my doctor friend says the root cause is not to clear (one of the reason being their hormonal imbalance by birth), which eventually gives them a ‘feel’ that they are not male. In such cases, according to medical science, a three step gender conversion is a solution. First he should consult a psychiatrist who can either help him to come out of the ‘feeling’ of becoming a female or mentally prepare them for a gender conversion operation. If the gender conversion becomes inevitable, he need go through a complex operation which will physically remove male genitals followed by some more psychological counseling, thereby ensuring that he get used to the new gender. The third and most important aspect is to have a well defined legal system, which can help the converted individual to be treated as a female in the society. She (erstwhile he) is legally entitled to apply for jobs (as females), get married (leaving the fact that she cannot reproduce) and enjoy all the societal benefits.

In India,  none of the above mentioned process/system exist. When an individual get a ‘feeling’ of becoming a female there is absolutely nobody to provide any sort of support. Over a period of time, these folks starts hating their male physique. With obvious lack of support from family (Imagine what would happen to an individual when he goes to his parents and says ‘I don’t feel like a boy; I want to become a girl’) and society they are forced to desert their families and join Hijra community. Upon joining, they are assigned a mentor (known as ‘didi’) who will provide some initial orientation. In order to go thro’ emasculation process (known as ‘nirvana’) the newly joined Hijra has to accumulate necessary money, which they can only do by begging. Even if the Hijra is educated, he is forced into begging because nobody is ready to offer any sort of employment.

After accumulating necessary money (and with the help of didi), the new joined Hijra meets a ‘self appointed’ doctor who will do the emasculation. This process is legally not allowed in India, hence performed behind the doors without proper precaution. Such a risky process can even result in the Hijra’s death. After going thro’ the unbearable pain for months together, finally the Hijra gets rid of his male identity. Now they are formally inducted as a Hijra with few ceremonies done as a part of their community. While the Hijra can take a small sigh of relief for attaining ‘nirvana’, life becomes exceptionally difficult from here on.

Hijras are not accepted in our country as human beings; Nobody is ready to rent house or allow them to eat in  restaurant even if they are ready to pay; Nobody is ready to offer any sort of employment; No hospital will treat them for their illness; No official documents (like passport, drivers license, ration card etc..) will be provided to them; They are not entitled to vote; There is no legal system in place by which they can officially declare themselves as female; In summary Hijras are not given a ‘human being’ status. Thanks to the support from Hijra community, they somehow manage to get a place to live. However they have only two choices when it comes to profession – Begging or prostitution. That’s the very reason why we see them begging in trains.

The very fact that there is no system exists for Hijras shows the maturity of our society. We are absolutely fine to listen about Hijras in Mahabharatha (when Arjun takes the role of Hijra, during their exile period) or worship our lord in form of ‘Ardhanarishwar’ (where lord shiva takes 50% male and female form) and claim it is something superior. But in reality, the situation is pole apart where Hijras are given third class treatment. There are few positive changes (one of the Hijras contested and won election in UP, TN government has offered ration cards for Hijras etc..) but that is way too slow considering there are about one million Hijras in India. There might be small pockets of development happened in the country, thanks to globalization, but we are far from creating an inclusive society.

No wonder we are still called as ‘Third world’ country!

Innovation – Type 1 – Business model [Case: Rangde]

In the ten part innovation series, the first type of innovation is about innovating in the business model. One of the micro-finance organizations, RangDe is innovating in the same area.

The concept of microfinance has been proven globally. For people who don’t know what microfinance is all about, here is a brief introduction. The term Microfinance is used to refer to the activity of providing financial services to clients who are excluded from the traditional financial system due to their lower economic status. These financial services are mostly loans (called as microcredit) and micro-savings. A few microfinance institutions offer other services as well, such as micro-insurance and payment services. For example if you’re domestic help wants a loan of Rs.1000 to help her son to start a roadside vegetable shop. It is impossible to get this sum as a loan from banks today. The other option is to take this amount as loan from unorganized sector (like local money lenders) for an exorbitantly high interest, which never allows them to clear what they have borrowed.

This is where microfinance comes into picture. Small loans can be given to poor people along with adequate training to make them small scale entrepreneurs. In fact this is exactly what Dr. Yunus has successfully done in Bangladesh for which he received Noble peace price in the year 2006. By building a system inherently tied with collective liability, Dr. Yunus has demonstrated 99% of loan repayment. Also this loan prevented poor people from local lenders who mostly exploit them through their high interest rates. There are three major players in the microfinance chain: lenders, microfinance organization (along with their field partners) and loan borrowers. Traditionally lenders are seen as bankers and financial institutions.


RangDe a microfinance organization has innovated around this business model by opening up the lending opportunity to retail investors. Given below are a list of innovations which have been worked around the business model and which is adding real value in the whole chain.


  1. Any individual can be a lender or social investor. They can invest as low as Rs. 100. This ‘peer-to-peer’ lending is radically different from how microfinance was perceived. A new platform for social investors is through a website.
  2. Any individual can create profile in the website, choose the person they want to lend money and make payments online. The website opens opportunities for new individuals who were hesitant to invest due to lack of transparency, delay in processes or sheer laziness. Now becoming social investor is as simple as investing in stock market or buying mutual funds online using a demat account. Also lenders can track the progress of the buyer and plan for their future investments accordingly.
  3. The complete chain is built, starting with the social investor to the borrower in a transparent way. Apart from creating the online platform for investing, RangDe has partnered with many grass-root level organizations or field partners who would look into the due-diligence of an individual as a borrower by going through their profile, needs and micro business plans. This plays a very critical role in creating trust in the overall system.
  4. Sustainable economic model is built for everybody in the chain. The borrower is charged 8.5% interest (which is very less compared with other organizations) out of which 5% is given to field partners who identify and collect loan repayments. Field partner incurs expenses for all this and the 5% the borrower pays is just enough to manage these costs. The remaining 3.5% interest is given back to the social investor.

By taking the basic concept of Microcredit and innovating around the business model, RangDe has opened up a new marketplace for social investors. In the bigger picture such innovative models play a very significant role in eradicating poverty in emerging countries like India.

Performance Management – Keep it subjective

In continuation to my earlier post, Performance Management – Keep in simple, I wanted to add another facet of the Performance appraisal process here. In case you have not already read that, please do so, so that you have a better context of the thought process.

A lot of the overhead described in Performance Management – Keep in simple, fundamentally comes from trying to make the whole performance appraisal process objective. How else do you explain having the employee set medium terms goals and measuring performance at the end of 6 months based on the goals set.

The above approach of setting goals and measuring performance against those sounds reasonable, until you factor in the following:

  1. Its hard to measure most of the time.. Lets say a goal reads, “To improve the usability of the product by 50%” or “To improve code quality and reduce bugs by 25%”…. How do you measure these goal and rate performance on a scale of 1 to 10??? Moreover, these goals are typically set based on the experience from previous assignments and may not be relevant or achievable for the next set of very different assignment that you have on hand. Additionally, you may just decide that something else took a higher priority than improving the usability of the product.
  2. The traditional approach does not factor in “soft” people issues and does not offer itself to reward people for those skillsets. Some one who goes the extra mile to keep the general team morale up, exudes positive energy and influences that across the team, someone who goes the extra mile to mentor a new joinee, someone who has a keen eye to instinctively spot the gap when a release is going awry are all example of this. I have often heard good captains and coaches say, “Suresh Raina has not been among runs of late, but the amount of energy he brings into the team dressing room and on the field is hard to replace and more than make up for this temporary loss of form. We are going to retain him”.

Here are a couple of thumb rules I have usually used in the performance appraisals:

  1. Measure an employee based on the amount of responsibilities that she can reduce for her boss (so that the boss can focus on other things).
  2. Measure an employee based on the impact to the team and the product if the employee resigned.

Keep it subjective!!!!


– NWritings

Performance Management – Keep it simple

In one of the earlier posts here, Performance management was called out to be one of the least understood domain. I, in fact, think its one of the MOST OVERRATED process. No, I am not saying its not important… I just feel that many companies have over complicated a fairly straight forward function. Here is how the whole “process” works in many companies:

  1. The employee is asked to fill out a long form, which includes her achievements, areas of improvement, support received, support not received, strengths, weaknesses, aspiration etc etc. As expected, most employees refrain from saying things that will adversely impact their hike / rating / promotions…. This takes a few days at the very least.
  2. The manager then goes over this with the employee to give her a good hearing and charts out a plan to address areas that need to be addressed – the plans put out are more often than not, not implemented subsequently. Watch out for the same set of inputs in the subsequent appraisal to understand whether they were indeed implemented or not.
  3. The manager then reviews this with HIS / HER boss to normalize things across teams and functions and comes up with the final hike / rating and promotions.
  4. The decisions are then communicated to the employee as part of a pretty long and typically stressful meeting. The focus is on retro fitting the hike that the manager decided to a rating.
  5. After a few days, the employee comes back with concerns about the way it was handled…. “My rating was lower than expected”, “would have liked more hike” etc etc.

Now the whole process is not only pretty long drawn (I have been in companies where this process took 1 1/2 months or more… twice a year), it also takes away a fair amount of mind share and focus from the core activity of building a product.

An alternate approach that I have found much more effective has the following characteristics:

  1. You, as a manager, is responsible for working very closely with the person and feedback is given then and there – for both good and bad performance. “Your handling of this customer complaint was impressive – here is why”, “Your commitment in getting this module out was awesome”, “You screwed up on this sales call – and here is how I think you should have handled it”. The results of the good or bad performance is fresh in the mind when the feedback is provided. You dont say during the performance appraisal “You messed up the documentation 2 months back”. This also gives a chance to the person to rectify things as quickly as possible. If you do not work closely with a person, get her immediate supervisor to do the performance appraisal. You dont.
  2. There is no surprise (positive or negative) during the performance appraisal – the person pretty much knows what to expect based on the continuous inputs received. If the person is surprised at the rating that you give her, it just means that you as her manager have not done your job and had her waiting till the performance appraisal to tell her how she has been doing.
  3. In short, feedback is then and there and continuous.
  4. In response, also build a culture that allows people to raise their concerns as soon as it impacts their work. To their “boss’s boss (if the concern involves the boss herself). The person cannot say, “I did not get clear specifications for this functionality 3 months back” during the appraisal.

This changes the whole performance appraisal from a “big band one time stressful” to an “on going continuously improving” process.

The common justification provided for the “big band one time” is that, it lets the employee to step back, reflect and set medium / long term goals. While it is important to “step back, reflect and set medium / long term goals”, I dont believe they need to be during the performance appraisal. It needs to be in response to an event (your competition launching an update ahead of you, the person realizing that he is working on a technology that doesn’t interest him, the person wanting to move into a more customer facing role, the person feeling he cannot work with a particular individual and wants a change).

These (and a lot more, in a typical product organization) require course corrections and changes to the way we work and set goals, but these hardly need to be part of the performance appraisals.

Keep it simple!!!!


– NWritings