How Our World-Views Shape Our Behaviours

Context Different people live their lives differently. Some go on to change there own lives and the world for better (e.g. Steve Jobs). Some are mainly interested in driving politics in their organizations; while some others mainly follow and give support to these leaders. Some others keep on hoping for good luck, while others believe … Read more

The First Question To Ask Of Any Strategy

Strategy is about making choices. This much is already known. But, what really qualifies as a valid strategic choice? A strategic choice is a valid one if its opposite does not look stupid! Example: Consider a global wealth management business “Where to Play” choice below: To target wealthy individuals who wanted and were willing to … Read more

The Consequences Of Shutting Yourself Off

Context Most of us simplify the world around us not only by forming mental models, but also by choosing which information to ignore. A certain kind of information (e.g. criticisms, signals, feedback) can get challenging for our minds–and so we get in the habit of ignoring it. Even great sporting legends such as Tendulkar develop … Read more

Great Men Are Masters Of Their Own Education

Context The middle class believes a little too much in formal learning. Unfortunately, a one-size-fits-all model can never make you excellent. Hence, most excellent people focus on self-chosen learning. Examples: Leonardo Da Vinci, Edison, Einstein, James Watt, Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, Lincoln, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Dhirubhai. Let me also take a fictional example … Read more

How An Irrational World Holds You Back From Excellence

Context A friend told me his personal story: He is a good badminton player. So he also spends some time playing with his son in their housing society, in the evening.   He teaches his son the virtue of patience and right technique, in order to serve well. He guides his son when he is … Read more

Basing Decisions on Bottom-line Is A Bad Idea

Bob Lutz is known for his intuition and his contributions to the US Auto industry. He has spent 47 years in the auto industry, and he ended his career as Vice Chairman of General Motors. What follows in an excerpt from Bob Lutz’s book ‘Car Guys vs Bean Counters‘. It was in 1979 in the … Read more

Reading Books Does Not Make You A Book-Worm

Context When I was a kid, I was told that those who read a lot of books are book-worms. They grow up to become impractical people. I did not get totally influenced by the idea, but it certainly did have some impact on me. And I believe that this myth has wrongly impacted a lot many … Read more

The Zen Of Steve Jobs

Zen Buddhism shaped Jobs’s design sensibility and business philosophy. One of the Zen principles that be borrowed was that of Ma. Ma states that a thing is defined not just by what it is, but what it is not — that a sculpture is beautiful because of both the rock taken away and the rock left behind. A few … Read more

Why Intelligent People Often Doubt Their Strengths

Context Confidence and Wisdom have a very interesting correlation: Foolish people are often very confident. Above-averagely-wise people are often under-confident. Very wise people are often very confident.  In fact, this is a well known cognitive bias and is known as the Dunning–Kruger effect.  This bias is due to a meta-cognitive inability of low-ability people to recognize their ineptitude and evaluate their ability … Read more

When ‘Operational Excellence’ Is Your Best Growth Lever

Context An owner of a restaurant (who knew that I was a business consultant) once asked me: What should be my business strategy? I was stumped. I felt in my gut that the concept of Competitive Strategy is not going to be of much help to this guy. But, I was not able to come with … Read more

How Decision Making Evolves as a Startup Grows

Context As start-ups scale up, the decision-making process needs to evolve. During the starting-up phase, the essence of decision-making is: less thinking and more hustling. So, you will need to focus on being fast, experimental, and flexible towards changes/pivots. But, as you scale up, the essence of decision-making becomes: making the right judgment calls. So, … Read more

A Great Marketing Insight From A Tea Vendor!

Context There is a small tea stall outside my office. This guy’s shop is always crowded. His tea is great! But the tea cup in which he serves his tea is a bit small. That much amount always leaves you a bit unsatisfied. I always used to wonder why did he do that? Once that … Read more

Use A ‘Rational’ Process For Analysis. Use ‘Intuition’ For Synthesis

Context Is there knowledge which by its nature cannot be expressed in propositions and is yet trustworthy? There is. That knowledge is called Intuition. According to a report published by PwC, business leaders are taking a majority (41%) of their strategic decisions about the future of their businesses based on their gut (or Intuition). So, … Read more

You’re Not Crazy Kid. You’re Just Highly Intuitive!

Context Certain people (esp. kids) are highly sensitive. They are highly tuned to other people’s conscious and unconscious feelings and thoughts–noticing even minuscule fluctuations in other people’s facial expressions and body language. Often such people feel they are “too sensitive”. This realization often troubles them or their parents.  However, the good news is: Sensitivity is highly co-related with … Read more

Insights On Network Effects Using A 2 x 2 Matrix

Context A 2 by 2 matrix is a great problem-solving tool (Read this book to know more!). It uses 2 carefully-chosen parameters in order to segment a situation into 4 parts. Often this breaking down yields surprising results. Example: BCG’s Growth-Share matrix. Let us try this tool for analyzing Network Effects. What could be the 2 right parameters … Read more

What We Seem To Be Missing About Uber’s Hyped Network Effects

Context Cab aggregation business has Network Effects. We all know that. But, there is a very important and nuanced difference between the Network Effects in an Online Retail business and the Network Effect in the Cab Aggregation business. And that nuanced difference has significant implications for the future of Cab Aggregation business. Let us see. In both … Read more

The Habit Of Optimally Using Your Decision-making Energy

Barack Obama always wears the same thing: only gray or blue suits. Which is part of his secret to getting so much done. As he told Vanity Fair: You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I … Read more

Don’t Start A Business Unless There’s ‘A Wrong That You Want To Right’

Context A lot of people would ask Steve Jobs how to become an entrepreneur, but that they didn’t have a business idea yet. He’d tell them, “I think you should go get a job as a busboy or something, until you find something you’re really passionate about.” Then, “You’ve got to have an idea, or a problem, … Read more

The Work Required To Have An Opinion

We all hold an opinion on almost everything. But, how many of us do the work required to have an opinion? The work is the hard part. You have to do the reading. You have to talk to anyone you can find and listen to their arguments. You have to think about the key variables … Read more

There Are Still Only 2 Ways To Compete

Context In 1960s, BCG asserted that there was only one way to successfully compete: gain relative market share. This would result in lower costs than the competitors. In 1980s, Michael Porter pointed out that there is another way to compete: differentiation. But, do these 2 ways of competing still hold true today? Does strategy today need to … Read more

What Strategy Can Borrow From Biology

Existence of competition is the reason businesses need Strategy. But, competition exists not just within businesses, it also exists between biological species. What strategies do biological species use to survive the competition? Can the field of Strategy borrow some learnings from the field of biology? Key Insight Just as species survive in their ecological niches, businesses can withstand … Read more

Disobedient Kids Often Do Better in Life!

Context Around age 11, Bill Gates started to become a problem for his parents. He refused to do the things his mom asked of him, like cleaning his room and showing up on time to dinner. Research suggests that there is in fact a connection between defiance and rule-breaking in adolescence and earning a high … Read more

Learn From Dhirubhai Ambani: Change Your Orbit!

Context A typical middle-class professional is in an moderate-happiness orbit. His home loan prohibits him from taking too many professional risks. And, this lack of risk-taking leads to only moderate professional success. And his moderate success makes him remain stuck with his debts. Thus, he keeps on revolving in a moderate-happiness orbit. Dhirubhai was an … Read more

Executives, Protect Your Alone Time

Context Today’s culture overemphasizes the importance of constant social interaction. Therefore, we tend to view time spent alone as time wasted or as an indication of an antisocial or melancholy personality. However, great thinkers and leaders throughout history — from Virginia Woolf to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak — have lauded the importance of having a … Read more