Questioning Effectively

April 6, 2014

There are many different question types dependent on the scenario you’re in. But there is only one type that I want to focus on today because it’s one of the most important and most poorly executed question types I have seen.
The “Wide” (and uninterrupted) Question:
You ask a very broadly defined question and intentionally don’t try to offer specificity in what you mean by the question. It is designed to get the person you’re asking to reveal more than they would if your question directed them toward a more narrowly defined path. There are definitely times where a more narrowly defined question makes sense and where you want to guide the person you’re talking with to a narrow boundary to elicit a certain type of response. For extracting the maximum range of information in an interview nothing beats “wide” and nothing beats silence from your side.

Read it all at the following link. One of the least appreciated skills and which should be built on Clayton Christen’s wisdom on asking the right questions


Strategy, Finance, and Innovation

November 8, 2010

What is Strategy?
Strategy is a set of action points and plans to maximise returns. It is important to plan to know what is the most profitable way and how it will be achieved.

What is Finance?
Finance is about management of money and assets and provision of funds to meet requirements and needs. It is important to know finance to be able to procure and manage money.

What is innovation?
Innovation is about improvisiong around constraints that are produced by both strategy and finance. It is important to be able to think new solutions because that is where the money is.

What is marketing?
Marketing is about creating perception of the stuff and communicating the value.

Feedback and Conflict are 2 separate things

November 8, 2010

Attended a training on giving and receiving feedback at the office today. It turned out to be a learning experience mostly because of the role plays that were part of every takeaway. Role play allowed a customised experience of the training as candidates used their own experiences to take the session in the direction they wanted individually.

The one really good thing that I realised is that there is a subtle difference between a disagreement and a feedback for a job. Often confused, and as a result both of them are handled badly.

What is feedback?

It can be positive or negative. Positive feedback lifts morale. Negative feedback is given to lift (improve) performance. Job could be related to your subordinates, peers and managers.

Both the feedbacks need to be timely (regular/instantly), based on specific instances (not attitudes and personal), and aim to add value to the person (concrete).

Negative feedback is a about a job done wrong and its poor handling leads to conflict. It has 2 basic components: a) you have facts that show that a job is not getting done properly b) you add value to the person by giving out steps for improvement and prepare a plan for follow up.

What is conflict?

It arises from disagreement over a proposed plan or activity. The important point is that you do not have the facts about the job going bad. You only perceive it to go bad. It is the perception that differs. However, you do need to have an alternate plan to propose that meets both ends.

Handling them

Handling negative feedback has four important skills

if receiver is unmotivated – contraction

if receiver is uncommitted – set personal goal in conjuction with corporate goals and consequences of not meeting the corporate as well as personal goals

if receiver disagrees – about the facts provide evidence.

– about the problem show consequences of non-action

if receiver gets emotional, shocked or cries – give permission, give space, empathise, sort it out but do not stop.

The art is how to not to sound complaining.

I am still not clear about how to handle the conflicts.

Where new Ideas Come from

October 16, 2010

A couple of links herehere and here talk about new ideas require open culture.

A contradictory report says that China is increasingly file number of patents.

The rise of British in India – A very important read

August 28, 2010

The evolution of the East India company into the rulers of India is one of the most intriguing stories. What led to the rise of a trading house to power? Here is a well researched essay on the topic. 2nd Look

How to think and solve problems -1

August 22, 2010

I am passionate about developing clear, logical thinking and structuring problems to lead to the right solution. The question has dominated my thinking for quiet some time now and I have been reading widely. However, most of my reading has informed me – but has not yet helped me develop a methodology and skill to help me either see the truth or come up with new ideas. I have now hit upon an idea to study the thought process of thought leaders and successful people in various fields and learn from them – rather than just reading about the application of the concept. I will compile the methodology here along with links.

The first thinker to be profiled in the series is C.K. Prahalad, the author of the famous concept of market at the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’.

He is renowned for coming up with break through ideas that helped management develop ‘next practices’ and change the perspective on management thinking. He was voted as the most influential business thinker in 2009 by The Times. He gave a couple of interviews on his thought process to the management journal s+b which was published recently. The article sheds light on how C.K. Prahalad was able to develop the concept and ideas.

New ideas are conceptual breakthroughs which can be derived from close observation.

the most powerful ideas did not come out of multiple examples. They came out of single-industry studies and single case studies. Big impactful ideas are conceptual breakthroughs, not descriptions of common patterns.

Conceptual break throughs are found by looking for outliers and weak signals

To me, the problems of greatest interest are things that you cannot explain with the current prevailing theory.Every one of my research projects started the same way: recognizing that the established theory did not explain a certain phenomenon. We had to stay constantly focused on weak signals. Each weak signal was a contradictory phenomenon that was not happening across the board. You could very easily say, “Dismiss it, this is an outlier, so we don’t have to worry about it.” But the outliers and weak signals were the places to find a different way to think about the problem

The first step is to identify the problem and frame it appropriately without worrying about the methodology.

“In developing all of these ideas, I learned not to start with the methodology, but with the problem. A lot of times, research tends to start with the methodology. I prefer to start with a problem that’s of interest and apply whatever methodology is appropriate…..

Finding evidence to observe pattern and derive logic

..when we started looking around, we suddenly found some examples….

Demonstrating the existence of pattern

So we looked at the logic…You have to create a story out of what doesn’t exist yet… and therefore you have to make it conceptually strong. The data is only an illustration.And you use stories or companies’ work as examples and illustrations of the concept, not as proof of good practice.

Disciplined precise thinking is required to put it across in a logical fashion.. like a flow chart

With every book or major article I write, I start by looking for a logical structure. It must be as simple as Euclid: The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Once you have this logical framework, everything else, all the examples, are just illustrations….
I can take any of my books and give you a flowchart in one page on the substance of the book…

Go read the full article here.