Sunday, July 15, 2012

Are you a looky-loo?

David Hickey, the famous american art and cultural critic, once wrote a brilliant essay in his book Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy. It's called "Romancing the Looky-Loos". The essay was published in 1997 and basically talks about various different kind of audiences in music.

recent post by Seth Godin reminded me of the essay and "looky-loos".

It was a term invented by Dave's father, a musician, for a particular audience who had come to the performance only to consume or as Dave Hickey says in his essay, "nonparticipants....They paid their dollar at the door, but they contributed nothing to the occasion - afforded no confirmation or denial that you could work with or around or against."

Being a participant is different. It is as if your presence matters - you matter. Being a participant means, you give feedback. Being a looky-loo means you consume/absorb and go away.

Groundswell has taught us that a wholesome community will need both the participant and looky-loo at the same time. However Internet after a long time dominated by TV, has created an opportunity to do a two way conversation. 

Please don't miss it! 
Please don't be a looky-loo!

Monday, July 9, 2012

What is a Process

Enabler OR Disabler?

When I started working, my first job was with a services based organization and process was the Queen there.

I had just started and somehow started developing this misconception (like many others around me) that processes are bad. The reality was, in fact, that the organization was able to put food on my table because of these processes only. You see, in any service based organisation, you need matrices to tell current and prospective clients that how your organization is executing projects and if it is justified to hire and pay freshers like me. These processes help you with those metrices and since they are employed industry-wide, they help clients too, to do comparative studies of useful parameters like quality and productivity.

Its only when I went to start working with an acquired product organization of another organization, where processes are loosely implemented (not always though), I came to appreciate their holistic importance. And for the first time, I carved out a philosophy - are processes enablers or disablers?

When it comes to the product, as Don Norman says it's not about you, it's about who uses the product. In the same fashion, when it comes to processes, it's not about you. It's about who implements the process.

As a product person I clearly have a strong faith in processes, but then when we try to follow processes based on what is written on the manual, and not based on, for whom it is written, the process eventually ends up choking the funnel - being a Disabler.

On the other hand, when you have a process which not only follows what is written on the manual or on the company's wiki, but is also accountable to the people for whom it is being implemented and who are implementing it, that when it frees up the bounds - being an Enabler.

The key is to strike a balance between two - use both the intuition and the manual together. If either of them gets implemented in a process individually, we have a perfect recipe for Disabler.

I will let you decide what kind of processes you would run your organization with - Enablers or Disablers. Please note though, you can build manuals and wiki; you can't build intuition, you have to hire it and nurture it, to see its magic on time.