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Winning million dollar deal in IT sector is getting challenging as competition gets stiffer and customer becomes choosier. Traditional mechanism of responding to RFX has become more Templatized, it is neither standing out for vendors nor Wow-ing for Customers. Having spent past years in Business Development roles (Pre-Sales), I have also adopted more proactive measures to approach customers with Proactive Proposals to sell our products and services. Even in this, we have mostly focused on “What We Have” in terms of products & services and “How Do We Pitch” them to customers. Both approaches, Reactive & Proactive, have surely given us great successes in winning many large deals. But I have always felt, we could have done better job of finding Real problem zone of customer and pitching it right into that Zone. Retrospectively, I feel, issue was not about approach but mindset. Instead of thinking into customer business challenges and opportunities, we focused on fixing our offerings into our perceived customer context.

In business development, we all are too familiar with strategies of Account Hunting, Mining and Farming, etc. Now, there is new term on horizon, called, Account Nurturing. Account Nurturing is about creating newer opportunities, unearthing hidden problems and discovering unstated needs by Design Thinking approach, which put emphasis on listening, user empathy, whole-brain thinking, collaboration, and experimentation. Design Thinking methodology can enable our front line sales and pre-sales consultants to acquire greater new skills in problem-finding, in analytical decision making, and in being creative, and innovative, in a whole new and exciting way.

Since completion of Design Thinking Certification program on Coursera, I have attempted to apply it in most of my dealings. Here, I share my Applied Design Thinking approach for Winning B2B deals by Developing real Requirements from customers.

It is neither about “Building Things Right” nor “Building Right Things”, but both “Building Right Thing Right..”!!!.

“Design Thinking” has been around for sometime but it has started trending up since Mr. Sikka started to talk about next generation of growth engine for Infosys. But well before, SAP has been offering their Innovation Management Framework around Design Thinking methodology.

I have been passionate about this since completion of my Design Thinking Certification in 2013 and have been practicing in most of my professional aspects.

Here, I have put together a short presentation to share my approach to apply Design Thinking into Project Management.

“How can you Control the future, you cant predict?” That was the question, Professor Sarasvathy at IIMB 4Startup has attempted to answer through her extensive research on Expert Entrepreneurship. She said, any start-up venture needs to deal with a fear of uncontrollable and unpredictable future. But good news is there is an approach to reverse this fear into cheer. She further explains, usually, most of us at grown-up stage are wired to think rationally based on learnings and experiences. This approach could be called Causality which is based on relationship of events. But there is another approach which is not based on analysis and wisdom but based on feeling the pulse of action at the edge. This second approach, Effectuality, is based on taking smaller and calculative steps forward by sensing and learning along the way to success.

To explain further, most business situation demands exerting utmost Control for desired future outcome by conducting extensive research to make it Predictable success. But we rarely get balanced weight of both in any situation. If both are low, we tends to Adopt to situation and try to conduct more research to increase Predictability. If we get better Predictability, we tends to Plan and try to increase Control bit for situation. If we gets lucky with increased Control and Predictability, we need to Persist on current  strategy. But when disruption is in air, Predictability goes down in markets. This is where Blue Ocean gets created where Corp avoids sailing into, but Entrepreneurs come-in for fishing using co-creation strategy. But surprisingly, in these Blue Oceans, it has been observed that, Expert Entrepreneurs hate three types of fishes; Business Planners, Market Researchers and Venture Capitalists.

To make more sense and address the curious “How” question around it, she defines a five principals approach in her research.

  • Bird-in-Hand Principal
    • Instead of defining goals and working on its means, It is better to know your means which are your current and immediate capability and capacity.
  • Affordable-Loss Principal
    • Instead of estimating ROI and assessing associated Risk, it is better to estimate the investment which might not bit if lost. It is more like “Risk little and fail cheap”.
  • Crazy-Quilt Principal
    • Instead on focusing on competitors, it is better to focus of building alliances/stakeholders who are committed to venture.
  • Lemonade Principal
    • Instead of worrying about unexpected outcomes, it is better to be ready to convert any adversaries into advantage to create new market and product features.
  • Pilot-in-the-Plane Principal
    • Instead of relying on inevitable trends established by market forces, it is better to roll out pilot and work on create trends.

I feel, this theory is not just applicable for Startup but anyone even in the Job. In our offices, sometime, we have to take risky and newer assignments, where we dont have liberty of research for future predictability.


Last year, I completed my PGDM course and with that its project work. Here, I am publishing my project report for anyone to have a look at it and benefit from same.
Note: All confidential data has been removed

An Assessment Framework for Strategic Digital Marketing Effectiveness from Saurabh Kaushik

Today, attended a very enlightening talk on ‘Innovation’ from Dr. Jay Rao of famous Babson University. Meeting him in person was a great experience, I found him to be an very energetic professor with warm in-person touch. Though, this session was of a short duration, but we could get good glimpse of his body of knowledge. Amongst many thought provoking interactions during session, I could jot down few of my observations from my notes.

Need of Innovation:

With information revolution taking place in early 90s, there comes the era of insecurity for big corporations who, till now, maintained their kingdom by withholding expertize, experience and knowledge of their products/services in tight grips. But, internet brought that knowledge to everyone in the world to make it flatten plateau of equal opportunity. To this there was varied response, many didn’t care about it and didn’t decided not to change a thing, resultantly, they perished to become dead meat for crows. Few embraced the path to peruse more expenditure on Research and Development to stay competitive but could not achieve desired benefits.

Flaws in Implementation: 

Many of organization thought that this was an additional expense which they have to live with to compete in market. So, they defined their Innovation Strategy as an additional expense in RnD. During start phase, approach succeeded, but failed at later phases. Following this, they started to wonder the correlations between R&D Spent & Innovation success as well as relationship of R&D effort with ROI timeline. Perhaps, there was no such formula to arrive at an academic approach or some scientific formula to tap into Innovation.innovation

Major Reason of Failure 

However, they could nail down few major reasons of its failure. Although, many organization persevered to their innovation efforts, their efforts fell for most obvious trap, Lack of Funds. With quarterly pressure of performance and profit, many innovation research were scuttled due to budget constraints. Some of remaining research effort, which could manage this budget hurdle, failed to convince stakeholders for additional time. Despite having enough time and budget, remaining fell due to running either in wrong direction or with wrong strategy for long duration. It was not just the profit loss, but also the loss of moral of its Innovation leaders.

Real Core of It: 

After doing all deliberation on all cause, one fact came out very strong, it not about process, people or practice to enforce innovation but the core culture of organization. Experimentation and Failure of two side of Innovation and one can’t ignore other. It comes together as we proceed with it. And the culture which encourages Experiment and takes Failure in its stride, are the ultimate champion of Innovation. Organization need to ask a question before embarking on this journey, “Do they have War Chest to take Failures?”.

Innovation is a Discipline:

As we understand, Innovation is about an application of Idea to create a new useful product/service to order to provide greater value to its customers. It is a deliberate application of 3Is, namely, Information, Imagination and Initiative. Moreover, this is a risk taking initiative to uncertain outcomes and unknown customer behavior.

Professor reiterated, Innovation was a discipline which could be learnt, practiced and mastered in a structured fashion but differed on its measurable aspects. He argued, if objective was just profit, measurement was easy, if objective is for Social up-liftment or urge for Creativity or need of Independence, etc., same might be difficult.

Radical Innovation: 

Innovation could be of two types. One Evolutionary and other could be Revolutionary. Evolutionary is is more like Continuous Innovation which gives Linear Growth but Revolutionary is driven by Continuous Experimentation of disruptive in nature and gives possibility of Non-Linear growth. Prof stressed, for successful practice, it could not be either of them, instead it had to be both of them together.

Nascent Stage: 

Innovation has been the buzz word for sometime now, yet, there is no definite and established practice for it. Innovation, as a discipline, is at its nascent stage to become a practice just like we had Marketing and Quality in 20-30 years back.


For my final term of PGDM course, I have chosen Digital Marketing as a focus subject for my project work. So, for last few months, I have been researching very hard on Digital Marketing’s different approaches and models. Following presentation is my compilation on a Consulting approach for Digital Marketing Consulting. Here, I am proposing a assessment framework to assess and analyze any organization’s current Digital Marketing and propose a comprehensive Digital Marketing strategy. If anyone interested to know more, I will be more than willing to share my knowledge and experience in this regard.

As IT industry is going through its churning stage to find a new growth path, there is a lot of buzz around “How to Move Up the Value Chain?”.  Concept of Service Productization offers new avenue. But, I scratched my head on this a lot and could come out with my 101 notes on Service Productization.


What is Productization?

  • Productization is a practical and systematic methods to implement product-like features and characteristics into a service and package it into a more manageable and understandable object.

What is Service Productization (SP)?

  • It is packing a Service offerings into a product bundle to deliver a domain solution with better cost, lesser time, better quality and higher predictability than Pure Service model. It is a complete domain solution full of methodology, framework, accelerators to

What are the Differences between Service Productization and Service Model? 

  • Based on configuration rather than customization.
  • Loaded with features rather than requirement gathering.
  • At end, Not a project model but a product.

What are main Characteristics Productized Service?  

  • A pre-defined and clear offering or deliverable
  • A consistent standard delivery methodology
  • Supporting tools and templates for executing the service
  • Consistent knowledge and skills required to deliver the service
  • Quantifiable costs and demonstrable value

Why should we productize services?

  • Sophisticated client base demands constant proof of repeatable and demonstrable value. Fixed-time, fixed fee and shared-risk engagements represent about half of all the work performed by Project
  • Executive Group nowadays. Therefore it becomes increasingly important for us to structure our work in a way that offers clear deliverables with pre-defined scope, methods, skills, time and cost.
  • A standard service methodology delivers significant improvement in revenue, pipeline size and utilization.

Why is it called Blueprinting of Services? 

  • Yes, it is a blueprint of end to end domain solution using services. If compared with Template, it is just about time and resources. But, Blueprints is about adding additional views of complete guides, deliverables, required authorizations, historic effort and other critical information.

What are critical success parameters of a successful SP? 

  • To Build a successful productized service, it has to address following two aspects:
    • Commercialization – A SP has to offer both most common and most appealing demand but in this, it should not loose sight on Cost Structure. It have to show one big price for full offerings but allows flexibility to change it by configurations based on customer requirements.
    • Standardization – Success of SP is purely based on standardization of each service in its portfolio. Surely, this comes with experience, but a model can be placed to keep it standard across offerings.
  • To Win in Marketplace, it is required to come with flying colors on following parameters as well.
    • Customer expectation -In this, It will be about Ability to size the Customer expectations and ability model in SP offering is critical to success.
    • Ability to deliver – Having modeled a fantastic SP, delivering it on promise is second most critical factor for continuation of success.
    • Service proposition – Should continued to have its Service flavor to it to provide Customization flexibility.


Can any domain problem be consider for SP? 

  • No, bear in mind, that SP is only beneficial in solution domain where there is high volume of work from multiple clients.


Wow, really impressed me…

Few take-away from his talk

  1. Drama Creation is all about keeping the anticipation going in audience mind.
  2. Story is an art of reaching conclusion by going though heap and bound of road leading to it.
  3. Audience watches drama for problem solving contently. Anything static and just happy happy don’t fly long, that is why we have Villain and Hero/Heroin  with Villain characters.
  4. You should give clues to audience to allow them to their conclusions along with clues of doubts to hinder their progress and keep the suspense of story.

What I like most about it, the end!!!

Whatever you are good at, it should be worthy a second chance given.


Way of Happiness – DVR

Last week, I attend a training session on managing large customer account, delivered by IIMB Professor DVR.  It was impressive but what I liked most was his step out session in which he enlightened us on his philosophy of life and happiness. Although, he gave long and impact full description of  “Ways of Happiness”, but following image is crisp depiction of his intellectual.


Book Reference: 

Born Twice

Last week early morning, I was watching a TV program  for which I missed the starting part. So I can give any reference here.

During that program, those gentlemen were discussing about ‘Regrets of Life’. They argued, at the death bed, everyone had to go through same regrets just before last breath unless its a sudden accidental death or individual is wicked creature. These regrets are broadly categorized in three questions, such as: ‘Did we Live enough?’, ‘Did we Love enough?’ and ‘Did it Matter enough?’ This is where we wish, we could live again.

At the end, they gave very interesting suggestion by proposing a philosophy to avoid these regrets. They said, if we ask ourselves these questions everyday, automatically, we will ensure that these does not come back to us at the day of reckoning.

Following image is capture that questionnaire.


  • None
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