Archive for Focus on Solutions

Talk to yourself

No other sector has experienced the same explosive growth as the computer and video game industry.

The animation and gaming industry has shown resilience in the face of the current economic downturn, growing by over 20 per cent during 2008. According to a forecast by Gartner, mobile games are the fastest-growing segment in the global markets, with revenue set to nearly double between 2013 and 2015 from USD 13.2 Bn to USD 22 Bn. In India too, a few months back, the research conducted by KPMG-FICCI has also predicted that from the current INR 560 crore, the mobile gaming segment size will become more than triple to INR 1,800 crore by 2017.

But, what begs attention is the reason for the growth. Has this gaming caught the fancy of people, have they albeit late discovered a latent talent which is now finding a way out to express itself.

I feel, it is more to do with boredom. Boredom from the events, the surroundings, the people, and above all, themselves.

Before the advent of devices that allow you to fiddle with them instead of twiddling your thumbs, people faced similar situations of finding themselves all by themselves. Some grudgingly, some silently, and some enthusiastically found ways of ‘passing time’ in such situations when you have to be by your lonely self.

This tolerance has gradually seen a downward spiral and has reached a point of desperation. Today a moment to yourself seems like a severe punishment of solitary confinement rather than a golden opportunity of spending time with yourself.

A familiar sight is people calling colleagues and friends on reaching the destination ahead of others. ‘Where are you? How long will you take? But I am on course. But don’t you realize I have reached before you and I am all alone. What do I do?

In situations like waiting at a doctor’s clinic or to emplane at the airport, it is interesting to see the emotions of people. Some are edgy, to a point of visible discomfort, waiting impatiently to be released from this discomfort jail, some are reconciled to the situation, trying to find ways to pass their jail time.

And there are others who relish the opportunity to spend time with themselves.

My father used to tell me, that a person who is bored in his own company cannot be an interesting companion. Talking to the creative, the successful and the intellectual, I have found they find their best ideas while talking. Talking to no one, but themselves. They cherish these opportunities as they have a reservoir of thoughts, ideas, and work-in-progress concepts that need these times to take them forward.

Technological advancements notwithstanding, there will always be situations when you will have to wait, bide your time, or pause between activities. And these situations can be whiled away or put to good use. But the use is not what is the concern, it is the lack of the bundle inside which encourages you to open, unravel and explore.

There will never be a time when one will not be left alone. There will be times you will be alone even in the company of people. There will be times when you will feel the stark loneliness of life, which reminds you that eventually, you are all by yourself, and fight your own battle.

Rather than complain, brood, or while away, talk to a companion who has your interest at the bottom of the heart. And will never desert you.

Talk to yourself.

Posted in: Entrepreneur, Focus on Solutions, Motivational, Work Culture

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Between in and out

Markets are the playing field for product and service providers, and their customers too. In reality a battlefield where the free-play of market forces gives the customer many choices as providers showcase to ‘win’ them.

Actually, it is a mouth-watering prospect for those who can stomach a fight. A well-prepared student eagerly awaits the exams; a well-bodied gladiator relishes a challenge; a confident provider looks forward to unleash products and services in a market full of competitors.

While competitors keep a tab on the market shares and the movements there is a complex interplay of a variety of factors that influence the outcome. For products it could be superiority, and for service it could be a technical edge.

If we study the case of telecom, it has some interesting lessons for those outside the industry as well.

20th January, 2011 was a landmark day both for the mobile network operators and subscribers alike in India. After months of speculation, the much awaited Mobile Number Portability (MNP) became a reality.

For a change both the provider and the customer were looking forward to it. The operators rubbed their hands in glee at the tempting prospect of poaching and the customers who had heard about being kings, had a chance to feel like one.

After a little over a month of MNP, the Department of Telecommunications released the following figures:

Between in and out





Like a balance sheet, conventional wisdom suggests that we look only at the last column which represents net additions. However to a strategic thinker, these numbers reveal much more than what they display.

Let’s understand what each column tells us.

The first column, ‘Subscribers in’ indicates the customers acquired and is definitely an asset to the company. It reveals the power of attracting new customers. It is a validation of all the marketing efforts and is harvest time for the seeds sown earlier. This indicates that the customers have dumped their existing provider in your favour. Smile!

The third column, ‘Net addition’ indicates what was gained minus what was lost. This equals to net gain or net loss. After all, in business, you win some and you lose some, and if at the end you have gained more than what you have lost, you have earned yourself a reason to feel good. Continue smiling.

The second column, ‘Subscribers out’ is what concerns a long term player. This column represents your dissatisfied customers. They have chosen to part ways with you – either because you were unable to meet their expectations, or your competition promised a better product or service. This is an alarm that your service and delivery is poor and found wanting.

To many the only concern is the net effect in business. As long as we are getting more than what we are losing, there is little cause for worry.

This is a Trojan horse. It is likely to hit you badly before you realize it. Focussing only on the net effect is like collecting water in a bucket full of holes. You are so happy with the constant flow of water that you hardly notice that a lot of water is dripping out all the time. You take cognizance of this only when the level starts dropping. We can keep on adding new clients but if we can’t hold them, we cannot win the long term game.

With competition in every business segment, there is nothing much to choose between products or services, and no one can be expected to have the winning edge for long. Players, new and old keep blunting the competitors’ edges and discovering their own in the quest to capture market shares. While a lot of emphasis is paid to attract new customers, the focus should also be on plugging the holes in the buckets or retaining what they already have i.e. satisfied customers.

We breathe in and out to survive, but success in the market is what we keep in, between.

The Article originally published at DQ Week, 20 May, 2014

Posted in: Focus on Solutions

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Two Choices

Two Choices

You can choose to focus on the Problems or the Solutions

The difference between focusing on Problems and focusing on Solutions:

Case # 1 : When NASA began the launch of astronauts into space, they found out that the pens would not work at zero gravity (ink will not flow down to the writing surface).

Solution # 1 : To solve this problem, it took them one decade and $12 million. They developed a pen that worked at zero gravity, upside down, underwater, in practically any surface including crystal and in a temperature range from below freezing to over 300 degrees C.

Solution # 2 : And what did the Russians do…?? They used a pencil.

Case # 2 : One of the most memorable case studies on Japanese management was the case of the empty soapbox, which happened in one of Japan ‘s biggest cosmetics companies. The company received a complaint that a consumer had bought a soapbox that was empty.

Immediately the authorities isolated the problem to the assembly Line, which transported all the packaged boxes of soap to the delivery department. For some reason, one soapbox went through the assembly line empty. Management asked its engineers to solve the problem.

Solution # 1 : Post-haste, the engineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high-resolution monitors manned by two people to watch all  the soapboxes that passed through the line to make sure they were not empty. No doubt, they worked hard and they worked fast but they spent whoopee amount to do so.

Solution # 2 : But when a rank-and-file employee in a small company was posed with the same problem, he did not get into complications of X-rays, etc., but instead came out with another solution. He bought a strong industrial electric fan and pointed it at the assembly line. He switched the fan on, and as each soapbox passed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line.


Always look for simple solutions

Devise the simplest possible solution that solves the problems

Always focus on solutions and not on problems

“If you look at what you do not have in life, you don’t have anything. If you look at what you have in life, you have everything” 

Posted in: Focus on Solutions, Motivational

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