My Book on Design Thinking titled ‘Design the Future’

Design the Future

Hi! As some of you might already know, my book on design thinking, titled ‘Design the Future’ is out!

Despite design thinking being several decades old, we are seeing increasing relevance in its application in our fast-paced lives today. I’ve read incredible books on the subject in the years I’ve been practicing it. However, I still find confusion & uncertainty among some of those who have been practicing it, as well as those merely trying to learn it.

‘Design the Future’ is an effort to reduce grey areas by building a stronger foundation. It covers the fundamentals, examples from around the world, and my observations, notes and learning of design thinking & human behavior.

If innovation, design thinking, problem-solving, human behavior or ideation are areas of interest, I’m sure you will enjoy reading this book.

Currently, paperbacks are on AmazonFlipkartInfibeam , and other online bookstores.

If you do read the book, I’d be grateful if you can leave me a review on Amazon.

You can reach me at ‘shrutin [at] ateamstrategy [dot] in’ with your views, or if you’d like me to answer any questions or doubts you might have.

Hope you enjoy reading the book & find it useful in supplementing your design thinking skills.

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What’s Your Profession? Did You Bring More Soldiers?

What’s Your Profession? Did You Bring More Soldiers?

In 1970s, according to the TV series Mindhunter at least, the FBI was filled with accountants & lawyers instead of more relevant experts in areas that mattered. That is, in place of behavioral analysts.

That seems to have been the case with the Indian Venture Capital industry too for some time now. They’ve strangely been recruiting a concerningly high number of Finance and CA folk. Instead of hiring more right-brained folk who can understand customer needs, likes, dislikes, and the customer experience. Those who can appreciate an entrepreneur’s vision and passion, and perhaps the grueling journey she or he has been through to get there.

Numbers don’t build businesses. They’re the result of it.

If the venture capital sector doesn’t have enough people who can understand a customer’s journey, an entrepreneur drive and vision, among other non-numerical things, just processing numbers will only make so much of a superficial impact. And bring so much of a multiple-x return on investment.

Look at the Indian funded startup space for instance. It even makes one wonder if many of our entrepreneurs possess the vision and passion. Perhaps how Flipkart is try to go after numbers, while Amazon is increasingly trying to improve the customer experience. Or how and why Uber might have logically entered the food delivery space? And more importantly, why did Ola (I hope I’m wrong!) seem to acquire Foodpanda in a knee-jerk reaction to Uber? Or how, while in India we still get mobile phones and media content literally on the same day as any developed country. When it comes to business inclination to improve the customer experience though, we get by with the bare minimum. Why?

Why can’t investors identify truly driven entrepreneurs and be able to align with the entrepreneur’s vision to create an impact? Does pushing an entrepreneur into super minority stake keep them sufficiently invested in the big plan? And is it possible for the overpaid founder of a funded startup with multiple investments of his or her own in other startups, early in his or her own startup journey, to create what people call a unicorn?

Focus! Focus! You need the right people, adequately motivated, to do one job! And to do it right!

Reminds me of a scene from the movie 300. When Daxos and his army meets Leonidas and his brave 300. Have a look!

Maybe there’s a difference between saying ‘customer service’ and doing what is necessary to delight?

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Carry This

Carry This

Last afternoon, I was lucky to chance upon some great customer service.

I was at a station in Karnataka, heading back to Bombay with my mom. The indifferent railway staff hadn’t been clear about which platform the train would arrive on. After a long wait, the platform was announced. The person at the info desk said that coach and seat numbers (which we didn’t have at the time) would be put outside the coaches 15 minutes before the train left.

We had one heavy suitcase to lug, so we asked a porter to carry it across to the third platform (it meant crossing an overhead bridge). The few porters around, were all carrying luggage across the tracks (an extremely unsafe practice) instead of using the overhead bridge.

This porter took the bag across while mom took the long route via the bridge to get there. Once she’d reached the bag, I took the overhead bridge too.

The train had just entered the station. About 15 mins before the train was to leave, the porter waved out from nearby. He informed me that the charts had been put up on platform 1 (where we had just walked from) instead of on this platform. Not surprising, if you are familiar with the limitless extents of human stupidity.

While time on hand was about sufficient, it was still a walk you’d reconsider in that sweltering heat, and the fact that you had just done that stretch a few minutes ago.

I put our bag in the train and prepared to head to the other side to check the coach and seat details, unsure of when I might need to run back to make it to the train. As I started walking, the porter was there, just having crossed the tracks with someone else’s bags. He asked me to give him my ticket printout, which I did. He darted back, checked the charts, and came back, telling me both passenger names, coach and seat numbers. Impressive.

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Sujit, the porter, unknowingly taught me a few things about what I call customer delight at the A-Team.

There was no haggling when trying to fix a price for carrying the bag. He said we could pay him whatever we felt like (Lesson: Enjoy what you do, and focus on the work at hand, and not too much on what you’ll earn from it). When I insisted on a specific fee, he said people usually give INR 30. (Lesson: Charge reasonably). Checking tickets wasn’t part of the deal. He could have as well gone looking for the next few customers (Lesson: offer increasing value to existing customers instead of constantly looking for new customers).

When I acknowledged his assistance, the chap just smiled and said it was his job. He even wished me and mom a happy journey. Now that isn’t something you hear often. (Lesson: You can never be too polite) And once I’d paid him, he took it with a smile, not bothering to check or count, and he vanished into the crowd to find more work.

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