Practical and Theory

education, experiences, ideas, Learning

You can’t experience heaven without dying yourself….this is something which my father used to say, when emphasising the importance of actually “doing & practicing” versus “learning by reading/ listening to podcasts/ viewing videos”. Its like what Mike Tyson used to say – everyone has a plan till they get punched in the face…..when that happens, its what you have practiced practically that keeps you in the ring.

I am a big propagator of the idea of lifelong learning. I have been an avid reader of books, I listen to a lot of podcasts and watch a lot of videos. Most of the people I read or follow have very interesting content. I used to find it very intellectually very stimulating. But it would all get lost in the daily humdrum.

But the items which I would practice would stay with me for a long time. As Joe Polish says there are three ways to learn – the first is to learn yourself, the second and better way is to Practice what you learn and the third and best way is to Teach from the experiences of what you practiced.

All the authors can write or talk about the ideas and challenges that they encountered. Consultants can give you ideas based on the interactions they have with multiple clients after synthesising them. Each has its value, because you can at least avoid the known “snakes in the grass”. But its only the practitioner who can give his/her experience with the “doing”.

As an example, some consultant or podcast may tell you, Facebook advertising is cheap and you can target on an amazing amount of niches because Facebook collects a lot of data of its users and preferences. But you want to say target, “start-up” entrepreneurs. When you actually go through all the filters, that Facebook provides for advertisers, you don’t find a way to target start-up entrepreneurs. This situation has actually happened with me a lot of times, when I have tried to implement some thing that I have read or heard.

Its not that the consultant is wrong, its just that they have not actually worked in your specific situation. Your learning comes out of applying the things you read and hear and then adapt it to your situation. Then the thing stays with you.

That’s why I keep prodding all of you who read my blog to give me feedback on how you applied what I shared in the posts and if it did help or where it didn’t help.

Look forward to hearing your feedback.

Carpe Diem!!!

Ability versus capability

language, Learning

I have this fascination for the nuances between words in the English language and whenever I come across something which I find interesting, I end up sharing with you’ll. Earlier I have shared the differences between being relentless and being persistent and others.

I have generally ended up using ability and capability interchangeably. The general meaning of both the terms is actually similar, so I wasn’t making an error in my usage.

Ability is generally defined as the possession of or the skill of doing something. If you look for the synonyms of ability you will find the word capability listed.

When I delved a little deeper in the formation of the word capability, I realised its the intersection of capacity and ability. So from what I could make out, in terms of the human performance – ability is about having the skill, but if I don’t have the capacity to do it then its not a capability.

So I may have the skill to play hockey – which means I have the ability. Can I play in a competition – may be not because I don’t have the stamina / capacity to last a competitive match – that’s not having the capability. Its a very nuanced difference, but it exists.

How did I come across this issue, which took me down this rabbit hole. Well I was listening to a podcast on and Dean Jackson used the term ability to define a musician having the instruments and the skill to play and capability as something where she can also make music. So you may have the skill to play an instrument but not be able to create music on your own using the instrument.

Its a very fine line, but if you follow the English language then this could be of interest to you.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Market forecasts – how I would get them wrong

Assumptions, Learning, Marketing, Product Management

In product management, one of the key things that is expected is building a market forecast and then getting a budget approved.

Being in a services space, our services were centered around some software products. Which meant that if the software products didn’t sell our forecast would be worthless. So the OEM being able to sell the product was critical. As an example if SAP becomes a leader in the ERP space then all the service providers who have capabilities around SAP have a large market to target and their business will grow.

Generally I used to map all the people, at the OEM, who were involved with the specific product. These people would also help lead us into customer requirements.

Now the challenge is that most people who are part of the same team will generally always give the same pieces of data. Therefore there was a bias in the data that was being fed to me. Now since I was also invested heavily into the relationship with the OEM, I was also not willing to see if there were somethings about the data which were not ok.

Just to put things in perspective, this same method had also made me immensely successful as a product manager. The key was that at that time the products were successfully getting sold by the OEM, so that momentum also helped us sell a lot of the services.

As they say , failures give you lessons , to succeed to the next step. I realized I needed to meet people who were not involved with that product within the OEM and outside to see how they were performing. I also started asking questions of why its not a good idea to go with that product.

This helped make my investments into building service capabilities around specific products more rational. It also helped me push the technical team to create more cross functional capabilities.

As a product manager or marketing manager you have to learn to find a way to not fall into the dual traps of group think and confirmation bias.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!