Repeatable processes

The worst way to do something is to do it in a way that cannot be repeated. This typically involves procrastination, anxiety and a mad dash to the finish line. The excel sheet is a mess. You got the answer required (or so you say) but you couldn’t do it again. You have no idea what worked. It isn’t repeatable. It isn’t a process.

The success habit is created by repeatable processes. It isn’t created by managing around crises. This approach involves front-loading the work and the stress and is typically characterized by a focused and relaxed finish with ample time to check and re-check the final product.

So, how are repeatable processes created?

1. Assume you will be back to reuse what you are working on. No compromises on excellence.
2. Make conscious decisions right from the start. Front-loading work and stress is a conscious decision. Postponing decisions inevitably results in procrastination and bad non-repeatable processes.

I am thinking about repeatable processes as I enter the new year. Perhaps it will emerge as the theme of the new year. It is definitely an idea I want to get my head around. Another such idea is decision making. I trust you will see many more blog posts on both in the coming months.

Of course you’re afraid..

“Bran: Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?
Eddard: That is the only time a man can be brave.”

(Source: A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin)

Yes, taking a chance and speaking up could make you look stupid. And yes, keeping silent and taking the high road may require a ton of resolve. But, let fear not be an excuse for lack of courage.

True courage isn’t the absence of fear. It is knowing that there are other things more important than fear.

The 2 choice inhibitors

The 2 choice inhibitors – immaturity and an inability to look beyond your own self interest inhibit our ability to look beyond the obvious choice.

Choices always exist. Where others are concerned, the best we can do is alert the other to their presence. There’s not much we can do beyond that. It’s their decision to not look beyond that obvious choice. That’s a choice too.

Where we are concerned, we owe it to ourselves to look beyond that obvious choice. All we need is that bit of self awareness to alert ourselves of the narrow frame. If we can call our inability out in the heat of the situation, we’re half way towards solving the problem.

Finally, while we are it, we can, sometimes, find ourselves in situations where we can be made to feel bad because of someone else’s choices. A gentle reminder – it’s not your responsibility. Everyone has a choice.

When you eat your first morsel at the next meal today..

take a moment and think about the effort that has gone into the meal.

It is very likely that –

– many farmers in different parts of the world have toiled for many months together to harvest the grains and vegetables that formed your meal

– many dealers and wholesalers in these parts then paid these farmers to transport this to the retailer

– the retailer team organized many a marketing campaign to make sure these were sold while fresh

– someone in your family or in the restaurant you are eating now spent a great deal of time attempting to cook it to perfection

– and, lest we forget, many people in the companies we work in made buying this meal a possibility (thank you, pay-check)

That’s a lot of people whose efforts have made this morsel possible. And yet, it is highly probable that we just gulp it down without giving this effort a thought. Perhaps we even mentally sigh at the imperfection of the meal because we don’t have something we wanted to eat.

So, today.. I’d suggest we do things a little differently. Before you eat your first morsel at the next meal, take a moment to give thanks.. to the many who made the meal possible.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate our gifts.

Open Salaries and compatibility

Buffer, a social sharing start-up, made waves when they put their salary formula and individual salaries on their blog. Understandably, this has generated much publicity and plenty of discussion in multiple places. As I was skimming the most up-voted comments on their blog post, I was drawn to a comment that said they wouldn’t want the world knowing how much they made and if any of the members in the Buffer team had pointed that out.

I found this response from one of the Buffer team members instructive

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The learning for me here is that we often jump straight into make a judgment on a situation. Often, a tad too quickly. Practically, all I’m looking to understand when I see something like this is what I can learn. And I’ve learnt a few things from this –

1. It is easier to fight for your values than it is to live them. I applaud Buffer for living up to their value of transparency. Too many organizations and people pay lip service to their values.

2. This compensation structure will not work for everyone. I’m not sure if this will work everywhere. That said, it is thought provoking and should be a great discussion for every founding team.

3. Stop judging.. look for compatibility instead. A lot of folks on the thread are busy making a judgment of whether this is good or bad. I think they’re missing the point. No one knows if this is good or bad. It hasn’t been tried before. Even if it has, the context was most definitely not the same. The deeper point here is about compatibility. Buffer has made a strong statement about the kind of people it looks for. If you are the sort of person who will not be comfortable with having your salary out in the open, don’t bother applying to Buffer.

This isn’t all that different from life. It’s easy to go about classing people as good, bad, low quality, high quality, etc. Who the hell really knows this stuff? It’s smarter to just check for compatibility. We won’t work well with everyone. Hopefully, we spend time with people who work well with us and vice versa.

Overall, I’m impressed with what Buffer has done. I don’t know if this is the best business move. Only time will tell. I do however think this has raised the bar on defining “core values.” And, at the very least, it will make folks think twice when they talk about “transparency” as a core value. That’s a big win. Well done Buffer.

FaceTime Audio Love

I called a friend using my Skype credit 2 weeks back. The connection was choppy. We decided to give FaceTime Audio a shot. It worked like a charm.

2 days back, I received a phone call at home and we were having some trouble with the line. Cue – a switch to FaceTime Audio. Once again, worked like a charm.

I’ve been using FaceTime Audio extensively over the last few months for both professional and personal calls and it has never disappointed. A friend likens the sound quality of FaceTime audio to the experience of listening to the person standing right next to her. I agree. The voice quality is fantastic – often better than a direct phone call and definitely much better than cross platform competitors like Viber.

I don’t know about Apple’s prospects over the next 10 years. There are few who liken it to BlackBerry since the innovation these days seems fewer than when Steve Jobs was around. Maybe that’s true. I don’t feel the same way. I am very grateful to them for FaceTime Audio. Sure, it’s incremental – but I think it’s implications are huge. Add a conferencing feature to it and you have a very powerful disruptor.

I’d love to hear about telephony services that have saved you a ton of money.

(Sorry to all the non-iDevice readers!)

Time or money

Until we begin earning, money seems like a barrier to happiness.

Once we begin earning, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to be happy.

This isn’t completely true of course. Time and money are just constraints. If these are removed, others would appear.

The big question really is – how deeply do we care about being happy?

If we care, the solution is simple – embrace these constraints, accept the frustrations and just “be happy.”

It can be done. We just have to want to do it.