interview

A class apart

Innovation is a relentless pursuit for every successful organization, cutting across geographies and industries. And many are driving disruptions by promoting intrepreneur teams too. Doug Hall argues this is a flawed approach, benefitting only a select few. Innovation needs to operate in a broader realm—one that encompasses all and promises a level playing field.

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Enforced downtime

A study by the Society of Human Resource Management shows that 17 percent of the organizations in the US allow sabbaticals. This trend is catching up in India too as many US- and UK-based multinationals operating in India have started offering such programmes to employees.*

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Soaked knowledge

If approached as an exercise in listening and learning, powerful conversations with clients and customers can offer long-term lessons. A challenging client may seem like an obstacle but can also turn out to be someone who will motivate you to do quality work, by giving eye-opening ideas and concepts. A radical new way of engaging with clients and customers, the SPONGE process focuses on listening as a means to gain diverse, insightful perspectives.

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Embrace the highs and lows

Gary Vaynerchuk, a bestselling author, quotes, “The skill sets it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, a successful marketer, or a relevant celebrity is a different skill set than you needed ten years ago, even though that was the skill set that mattered for decades.” In this age of rapid digitization, network marketers are required to keep up with technology, more so, social media. Building the right relationships or networking is critical as the connections created largely determine the opportunities available. Jennifer Turnage and Megan Sumrell, authors of Honey, You Got This! Technology Made Easy for Network Marketers make known the trending concept of network marketing and how working smarter and not harder is made possible with technology.

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From firms to ecosystems

In a VUCA world, where value is created and destroyed in surprising ways in every industry, many organizations respond by investing in new technologies only to keep up with the competition. Ralph Welborn, co-author of Topple—The End of the Firm-Based Strategy and Rise of New Models for Explosive Growth argues that what has made businesses effective today will not work tomorrow. He proposes that individuals (or organizations) need to answer the ‘new strategic question’ and understand its implications on what they do, how they do it, and with whom they do it so they can identify and capture new sources of value.

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Discovering value

“Commercialising innovative ideas is a constant run. It requires immense efforts, as you attempt to move forward and make progress on your way while facing one hurdle after the other…entrepreneurs and innovators are trained to run fast…running fast may be useless if you are not running in the right direction.” Entrepreneurs have to focus on valuable market opportunities but encounter failure when wrong choices are made due to flawed evaluation. Sharon Tal, co-author with Marc Gruber of Where to Play, tells us how one can choose and prepare to act on an opportunity, using a tool such as the ‘market opportunity navigator’, staying focused and agile.

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Dealing with the unpredictable

Crisis—whether unknowingly self-inflicted or due to external factors—is an impending reality and it is only prudent that companies always have a plan ready for the worst. Ramya Ramamurthy, author, REBUILD, details what a good crisis management strategy comprises, gives anecdotes of how bad decision-making has led to the downfall of even giant corporations, and explores the role of PR in sustaining reputation in difficult times.

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presence in the present

In his book, One Second Ahead: Enhance Your Performance at Work with Mindfulness, Rasmus Hougaard says, “Mindfulness is about you. It’s about overcoming the multitasking trap, and entering the attention economy being one second ahead of your wandering mind and external distractions. It’s about being the best version of yourself every day. It’s about generating greater mental effectiveness so that you can reach your full potential, both on a professional and a personal level. Effectiveness in this context is the ability to achieve your goals, objectives, and wishes in life.” In an exclusive interview to The Smart Manager, he elucidates the need for presence at the workplace and how a functional mind aids focus.

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driving innovation

The US Patent and Trademark Office describes innovation as “…a word that touches every facet of our everyday culture from business to science and even the arts. Innovation is often associated with creating new things or ideas and includes improving upon old ones too. Businesses around the world have a great need to continuously innovate to stay competitive in the global marketplace and to bring consumers the latest and greatest products and services. But innovation is not defined by just a single event or even a single brilliant idea. Innovation is truly about a process, a series of steps that begins with human imagination and creativity and results in the creation of something of value for society to enjoy.”*

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packaged goodness

Speaking at a conference at Harvard Kennedy School recently, iD Fresh Food co-founder P C Musthafa said, “We build trust by trusting our consumers and went by the policy—if you want someone to trust you, you should first trust them.” With its unwavering focus on quality, the company is busting the myth that packaged foods are unhealthy. That they serve one million idlis a day is a testimony to their customers’ trust in them.

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