Browse Category: Startups, Products & Growth

ancient storytelling art of storytelling

The oldest & hardest thing humans do!


Last week Jeff Bezos was in Mumbai visiting investors, customers and a group of content stakeholders for Prime Video. When he was getting interviewed by SRK and Zoya Akhtar, Mr. Bezos mentioned a very interesting point about content-making. Referring another form of it as the oldest and hardest things that we have been doing. Allow me to explain.

From the dawn of life on earth nearly 4 billion years ago, the only way to transfer the information was through re-production. Whatever the evolutionary knowledge your DNA has got, it used to and still gets passed on to the descendants via re-production, yet another form of survival-instinct at the gene level. This miraculous yet inefficient form of knowledge-transfer played a key role in the creation of bio-diversity we all witness today. But it were human genus, between 2 million to 200,000 years ago, who started communicating through signs and primitive talking (imagine 2 dogs barking at each other in some code language and understanding it). Since then the more advanced forms of knowledge like ‘don’t eat a particular tree’s fruit’ or to ‘not to go near some pond’ or ‘to store food deposits for the upcoming winter‘ were passed down successfully. It is around this time the above mentioned phenomenon arose. The oldest and hardest thing humans are doing for thousands of years – Storytelling!

Don’t believe me? Just try to recall the number of hit vs flop movies from 2019.

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Company Vision and Mission Tushar Shinde

Why do Company Vision & Core values matter! (for laymen)

There are hundreds of things that could possibly go wrong when you start your own thing. It surely is in the startup stage right now, but there is a clear difference between it growing big and dying out after a year. That difference is The Vision.

For example, you putting the efforts with the constant motivation in your e-commerce business and being successful at it depends on how you put it in a statement. Calling this as a mere ‘statement’ is an understatement though! You might want to sell stuff online to the maximum number of people possible with an online channel and want to book high profits, but that cannot be your vision. Amazon puts it in a clever way. They strive to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

Now the second statement is more closer to the WHY of the process. Once your why is clear, so will be the people working with you. This one statement helps you in the multitude of the business processes. From building your core team to hiring to customer support to the way you design your service to…

But remember, your vision statement is not your advertising campaign to just write larger than life phrases. Vision has to align people to some particular initiatives and efforts. When I was assigned to Project Management stuff at @Publicis.Sapient, the first thing I was asked to do is to articulate and summarize the core values of new Sapient brand when it got acquired by the advertising giant Publicis Groupe. In the process of writing that article, I was drawn more towards the reason of me working there. Monetary benefits are important for sure but not at the cost of zest behind the reason of working on something. And so the vision statement connects you to the rest of the circle your company stands for.

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tushar shinde

The Complex Solution #3

11.3 Million people tuned in to their TV sets on the new year’s day of 2017. BBC broadcasted Sherlock’s The Six Thatchers episode with a consolidated audience share of 37.8 percent. No wonder why BBC refers to this series as a masterpiece!

Ever wondered what makes it great though?

Sherlock belongs to one of the most popular genres in literature – Mystery & Thriller. And oh boy, people like mysteries because people are mysteries. It is not hard to create stories which makes readers await the revelation, but great mysteries create the sense of originality where the solution outcomes are fanciful or unexpected. Great mysteries like these are not made from the infrastructure settings and the facilities, they’re made by people who live there. Every person you see or read, you kinda meet them. They have something special to tell you. That’s the charm, every other person is smarter than the previous one and this circle comes back to us as well and then it extends, again. In other words, you are a part of the circle. For Sherlock, most of the times it was not about who did it but was about how they did it!

The case study method, now popularized by management schools was first brought in by Harvard in 1919. It is rooted in the foundations of Harvard from the era when even the idea of teaching management in school was very new and pathbreaking. This was the formal start of MBA curriculums. The case method had been a key to the improvement of studying businesses, made Harvard Business School stand out and pioneered by many others who followed along.

Now, could you please take a moment and wonder why these case methods of studying businesses are popular though?

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google vs apple

The Complex Solution #2

Imagine that you have been bitten by a startup keeda and you have started fantasizing about a million dollars in revenue for whatever that you are gonna build and how on one fine day you will sell it for a billion dollars!

Sounds great, right? Now here’s the catch. Your product has this core feature which is dependant on a third party service. Somewhat like how Ola, Uber run on Google Maps. But the third party which provides the services (some API or data or platform) is also a budding startup with a bit of competition, where you are a client. Now, both players are kinda generating value for each other. The question is who will pay whom for using the other? Remember the classic chicken-egg problem?

Problem is very clear. Usually, where both the players are on a falling side, this creates a win-win situation. Most startups partner with each other in this case and then they are good to go!

What if both the players are on the strong side of the game and hold most of the market share in their respective segments? Who should roll up their sleeves and demand the payout from the next party? Or should they also follow the startup mindset and partner with other? Unfortunately things are quite different at this scale.

Google holds more than 88% market share for search engines. And any platform leveraging their search aces. It generates more than 90% of its revenue from their search service (ever noticed how searching good sports shoes ends you up in getting relevant ads at the top of search results, gmail and ad-spaces on websites you visit thereafter?) Also, around 50% of Google’s revenue is generated from US markets, mostly from mobile-based searches.

On the other side of the table you have Apple which holds more than 50% of mobile market in US with their proprietary iOS. And thus almost all the phone-surfing is done via Safari, their default browser, holding the most popular mobile internet browser position. Apple, at its core, is a hardware selling company which happened to glorify its offerings by one of the best possible OS, personalised channels & services, huge class of phone applications to choose from and also the fast and best user experience. Now when it comes to surfing the internet you know who offers the best experience on the planet.

Got the catch yet?

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Tushar Shinde

The Complex Solution

How often do you come across a situation where you get to know that there’s no way out of this problem which you’re facing?

Doing business, or doing good business is not an exception. We, by our sole human instincts try to avoid failure at any cost to prevent the aftereffects. But O dear lord, that’s not gonna happen. And it is not surprising to see yourself doing mistakes till the very end until the business dies out. The same goes with building or managing a product too. In my startup journey, I did make many mistakes and other times came up with crazy solution which worked as well, but that’s the topic for some other time.

Let me tell you about one similar story I read recently.

If you have travelled by a plane anytime, you must be knowing that to claim your baggage you have to use the baggage carousel. You have to get down from the plane, walk through the huddle (or sometimes in an airport bus) to get to that carousel, which is pretty hectic provided you had a long flight and you just want to head back home to your loved ones.

Houston airport is a pretty crowded one and mentioned is the real situation the management came across. Thousands of people travel to and fro every single day. So, after a long flight with unease and jetlag and discomfort, people had to get down and walk to the carousel to claim their baggage. Now it takes them 1 minute to get down from the plane and to the carousel and almost 8 minutes to wait for their baggage to arrive. You see, 88% of the time is wasted in waiting. Result? Increasing customer complaints! We people hate having no idea about what to do and simply be idle.

Management tried implementing various solutions to increase the customer satisfaction.

  1. They tried to deploy more manpower for handling and transporting the baggage to the carousel – A really costly solution having not more than 30% to 40% of resolution. Plus, it comes with the opportunity cost.
  2. They thought to automate the process – Which itself is even costlier and also changing the entire practice at how baggage handling works on the airports. Cost Vs Benefits ratio broke the walls of management room.
  3. Speeding up the carousel – If you think closely, this pretty inefficient solution could have never worked out and would even have increased the complaints of non-complaining users. So, this solution has side effects.

So, how else would you reduce the average wait time for the claim?

Sometimes, it’s a good thing to zoom out a little and focus on a more deeper need of the customer. Is time really a problem here? Or people just didn’t know what to do with the time in their hands? What would happen if we address a more deeper need?

Facebook simply did not make another social networking site. they addressed the people psychological need of getting connected to other people around you without having to face the anxiety or nervousness to talk to them in person. I bet most of the guys have had started talking to other girls this way 🙂

Back to the problem, the final solution that Houston management came up with is to move arrival gates farther away from the main terminal. Would it help? Absolutely! Now it takes passengers almost 7 minutes to walk to the baggage claim compared to a minute before. By that time, all the baggages are ready to be taken from carousel. They have no idle time, and people have accepted it as a standard airport infrastructure.

You just have to observe closely. Not every problem requires a complex solution!