Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Friday, October 17, 2014

Managers, Leaders and Entrepreneurs: Employee Perspective

Over the past few years, I have worked in different places where the behavior and personalities of certain people have shaped my experiences at the organizations. 

You will hear this phrase many times uttered by CEOs: "Human capital is the greatest asset at our companies." After all, the work is done by the employees. 

One of the reasons that triggered this post is that nowadays always some pair combination of managers, leaders and entrepreneurs is used to define business people. The below descriptions dig deeper to explore these three types of personalities, an employee often encounters in an organization. 

[Image source - 
MEL Institute]

Manager: Typically, I find managers results driven (in a good way) with an understanding of the capabilities of the system. Managers accordingly plan, execute things. The expectations from employees and result mean everything and often, and there is a structure or process driven aspect to working for a manager. I have had managers who tend to oversee every little detail and it was essential to set appropriate plans, priorities and milestones to effectively work in such a situation. As there are defined metrics on evaluation of your work, these set the ground-rules and boundaries for an employee to work towards meeting the key performance indicators. People at consulting companies are typically great at management in a corporate setting, however as we know, you should manage to lead and not lead to manage. I believe the relationship with the employee makes the difference, as an employee is either working for someone to complete a task or ideally working with someone on a task.

Leader: Yes, you guessed it right. These are people who inspire the group towards a common goal and are usually running the department or the organization in most instances. The couple of things that have stood out for me that a leader has are: a great grasp on clarity of thought and creating the environment to achieve success. The metrics for accountability actually help the employee to be rewarded for the hard work and motivates one to aspire and contribute to the goals. You are part of the team. Successful leaders are genuinely interested in developing skills of the employees and actively empowering the group, encouraging to even step outside the comfort zone. While working with leaders, I have often found myself acknowledging failures, yet focusing on the learning component to continue working towards the project goal. The expectations to meet deadlines is always here, but the employee has the belief to accomplish and do great things for their team / department / company.

Entrepreneur: I wish I knew all the traits that define an entrepreneur. At the core, the passion and focus to create something using the available resources, drives an entrepreneur. The end goal always evolves, hence the approach is flexible. The advisors and mentors do a great job to give unbiased feedback to maintain objectivity in pursuing the product goals. The employee in a startup typically wears many hats, doing a multitude of functions, and is caught in the exciting journey while working in a dynamic environment. I feel one needs to understand the strengths of the team and each individual to be the most productive, as the team has the capacity to be nimble, task driven and innovative at the same time. As the team grows the organization needs to bring in people with management skills to ensure smooth running of the projects. This many times affects the working structure as more processes are established to scale the organization. The employee needs to understand the short term goals but be cognizant of the product vision. Hiring employees is one of the most critical jobs for an entrepreneur to build the right team for the product / company. Amongst the many things, a can do attitude and ability to execute are the attributes an entrepreneur cherishes in  his/her employees.

There is definitely an overlap among the three categories and it is hard to find people fitting these archetype of roles. I believe, greater overlap between these personalities leads to a better outcome in most instances. 

To oversimplify things, entrepreneurs imagine products, managers build these to scale and leaders create organizations.  Productivity in the work setting is affected by many factors, however from an employee standpoint, the one thing that defines the working relationship is trust. Within the organization, other factors like culture, talent development strategies, appreciation and appraisal are some of the important aspects for employees to be productive. 

There are plenty of articles written on this subject, including a book that provides insights from U.S. airline industry. If you feel academically inclined to further peruse this topic, do check MEL Institute. Here, Prof. Dover and Prof. Dierk have tried to quantify the competencies and highlight the challenges within organizations. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Healthcare trends: next couple of years

I believe most of this is already happening and will accelerate further given how rapidly the healthcare ecosystem is changing. These are just few of the entrepreneurial opportunities within healthcare.
  1. More connected devices in the hospital and home will provide the data for patient analytics – access to data will be streamlined. 
  2. Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) results will prove the value in coordinating care of patients.
  3. Policy discussions will shift towards ideal regulatory oversight of mobile medical apps and stand-alone software. 
  4. Medical device manufacturers and providers will embrace monitoring devices (including wearables and sensors) to care for the patient. 
  5. Telehealth or telemedicine will gain more traction in 2014. 
  6. Mobile apps with simple UI/UX to manage patient health data will proliferate and doctors will prescribe these apps to get patients engaged. 
  7. Healthcare exchanges problems will get resolved bringing more patients into the healthcare system. Also interoperability standards and emerging frameworks will increase connectivity between networks.
  8. Digital health technologies – more wearable and sensor based devices for wellness, EHR adoption and tech-enabled tools for management of elderly + chronic care.
  9. The field of big knowledge will emerge where decision making and insights will have more importance than data analytics. 
  10. Alternative sources of funding startups will increase – govt. grants, crowdfunding, incubators, non-traditional partnerships.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Entrepreneurs = Rock Stars

Everyone is an entrepreneur in his own right. Let me explain.

Pharmaceutical sales reps are a great example. They pursue relentlessly into selling the drugs. The company gives them the freedom to determine the process and shows them a general direction based on prior best practices gathered from the field. The self belief and target sales goal are the drivers for achieving success. The elevator pitch has to be mastered and delivered to the audience at every opportunity available. You tailor the value proposition based on the relevant decision maker. For example, if you are selling a drug in the hospital marketplace your pitch changes based on whether you are talking to a pharmacist or a specialist.

Schools are another example where the entrepreneurial ecosystem prospers. The professors’ act as mentors/VCs/Angel Investors, the school acts as an incubator and we have the ever-popular entrepreneurial student. Students continue to take advantage of the available resources, pivot based on the interests and achieve results. I think PhD students are phenomenal since once they graduate they join the workforce, continue giving back and move the field ahead.

LinkedIn CEO wrote the book, "The StartUp of You" where he talked about navigating your career as an entrepreneur.

During my MBA at Babson College, a lot of the focus was on understanding the entrepreneurial thought and action method. The conversations very quickly moved from starting a new venture to the intrapreneur in the corporation. Such discussions and learning forced us to take the small steps, measure the outcomes, re-calibrate and proceed. In fact, all my colleagues are doing great in their respective fields and I believe one of the underlying reasons is that the entrepreneurial mindset helps you to be action oriented and teaches you to deal with ambiguity in the workplace. Why not? What if? Maybe? All such type of questions eventually lead to something successful only if you act on the curiosity. And it's not where you start, it's where you finish.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

TEDxBoston wisdom

Revolutionary ideas and remarkable people indeed. I think that is the common thread for most TEDx conferences. Instead of capturing the highlights, I am listing some of my favorite quotes from the speakers at TEDxBoston 2013 with a link to their work.
  • Farah Pandith: How can teens be empowered to reject extremism?
    - The best way to disrupt the ideology of extremists is to provide a counter narrative...Let's unleash the power of this youthquake. I believe in them. Do you? 

  • Nikita Bier: How can visualizing information change the way we vote?
    - What unites Americans is their shared ignorance over public policy. We consistently vote against our financial self interest. 

  • Matthew DuPlessie: How can transposing your surroundings change the way you perceive the world?
    - There is a false dichotomy between educational and entertaining experiences. We can do things in real time and in real space that you can't do on a screen. There is a real world outside our glowing rectangles. 

  • Geraldine Hamilton: How can tissue engineering transform the way drugs are designed?
    - Academics are great at innovating but fail at translating into the real world. 

  • Josh Trautwein and Dan Clarke: How can making fresh produce accessible and affordable change our outlook on health?
    - There is a direct correlation between food access and health disparity. 

  • Helen Greiner: How can robots help save lives?
    - In the future flying robots could bring you that cool refreshing water while you are climbing a mountain. 

  • Peter Dilworth: How can taking your pen off the paper let you to draw things exactly as you imagine?
    - Even though it may seem small, take pride in everything you do. You never know what the universe will pick to represent you!

  • Xiao Xiao: How can infusing technology into music change the way we play?
    - Music is about the interplay between abstract ideas, performance and the inner worlds of the player + the audience. 

  • Paul Sellew: How can trash fuel our world?
    - Germany recycles 75% of their organic waste, in the US we send 95% of ours to the landfill...Cows fart out the biogas and we capture it.  

  • Brian Healy: How can homes embrace the new reality of coastal living?
    - 37% of Boston expected to be flooded in 100 years. 

  • Vanessa Kerry: How can training new doctors and nurses in resource-limited countries cure more than people?
    - In a dorkier, medical version of online dating, we match doctor volunteers to countries in need of education. 

  • Sam White: How can off-grid refrigeration change the economics of rural villages?
    - It's easy to dream big. What's hard is when the physics of the real world kick in! 

  • Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu: How can light shape our minds?
    - We see a world where we can erase memories or edit any memories we like. 

  • Eliot Fisk: How can classical music deviate from the expected?
    - Music is the great common language of our species. 

  • Sam Aquillano: What can we learn about design by encountering exhibits in unexpected places?
    - Design is everywhere. Everything around you is designed in one way or another. 

  • Nataly Kogan: How can we be happier?
    - Stop saying I'll be happy when ___, start saying I'm happier now because___. Life is made of moments. Choose to create and collect the happy ones.