Monday, December 29, 2014

5 Keys for Success in 2015

2014 is almost gone and 2015 is knocking on the door, but are we ready to face the New Year yet?

Here are some basic steps that can help you design, plan and put in execution what could turn out to be a great 2015!

1.       Figure your Objective
This is what you want to achieve in the year 2015, not a list of things that you want to do. Don’t clutter your mind or objective with the how, what and details of your objective. Keep it simple, just what you want to achieve in 2015 for example, “I want to be healthy”. Here is some reading material - Make 2015 Your Breakthrough Year.
2.       Develop the Process
Once you have figured your objective (hopefully, just the one and not a laundry list!), you should start developing the methods and procedures to achieve that objective or target. You can use a mind map or just a simple list to note down the processes and refine them. Using the above example as an illustration, the processes to “Being healthy” according to you could be “run / jog / walk”, “light workout”, “mediate”, “eat well”, “balance work and life”, etc. This post also gives some interesting insights - 7 P’s Leaders use to Achieve Goals
3.       Define the Metrics
In this step, you list out the milestones and what stage in your objective that you should have progressed to. Again, using the example above, you could say “walk 5 miles a day, 4 days a week”, “lift 10 pounds twice a week”, “meditate 20 minutes every morning”, etc. You should also have some timelines attached to these processes like “I should have lost x pounds in 3 months”. These metrics will help you monitor and make course corrections, if required.
4.       Assign Responsibilities

In this step, it is easy to collapse all processes and metrics and assign the responsibility to yourself and be done with it, especially if the objective is personal, but don’t do that! Even where it looks like the responsibility is yours, make it look like the task is “assigned” to someone else. For example, if you have a running or walking partner, then make it look like the task is assigned to that partner!

5.       Monitor and Improve

The objective is known and even made into a poster and stuck on the wall, the processes are well laid out and metrics are meticulously defined with roles and responsibilities assigned. But all this would count for zip if you don’t monitor diligently at the deadlines and refine or make course corrections as required. So, make the calendar of milestones and deadlines count, and if required and you think would be a great idea, involve an advisor or mentor or partner to sit with you to go over the milestone achievements.

In summary, these five simple steps will provide an effective strategy of processes and a framework to achieve your objective. Focus on the now and commit to the processes. Initially, the objective will seem far away and unattainable, but like the Chinese Bamboo, if you keep doing the processes right, your goal will be automatically achieved in the targeted timeframe.

Good luck and a Happy New Year, 2015!

Kall Ramanathan
ValueStrat Consulting @ValueStrat helps businesses understand where they are currently and what they need to do to get where they want to go. For this, we provide essential strategic plans and approaches, called “Keys”, to enable businesses to open up competencies and clear inefficiencies.

ValueStrat gets to the DNA of business - Desire, Need and Ability - to help you ask some critical questions such as discussed above. Check out for more

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Make 2015 Your Breakthrough Year!

What does the New Year have in store for us?


Really, the New Year is only a calendar concept; it has nothing to do with how your life is going to turn out to be; or your business. However, the power to make 2015 is truly in your hands.

There, I have said it, the standard, worn out cliché advocated by so many self-help gurus. But then, I am neither a guru nor a self-help wizard and so I don’t want to bore you with the usual list of do’s and don’ts.

However, all of us want to improve, grow, achieve, etc., and want everything and every situation to be a win (or win-win!) going forward.

So consider this as a few basic suggestions to make 2015 a “breakthrough year”. Here goes.

New Year Resolution(s)

New Year resolutions usually tend to be negative, in the sense that they are resolutions made not to do something. They go something like the simple yet difficult “I should quit smoking” or “I want to lose a few kilos” to more complex “I should not …” stuff.

It is always negative or “not”!

What tends to happen here is that the negative stays in the mind and consequently there is little thought on the positives. And it is also very difficult to check your “progress” because it involves monitoring something that you are not supposed to have done, like “x days since I last smoked”, etc.

And that’s why these “New Year Resolutions” quickly lose focus and get forgotten a couple of months down the line.

What I am suggesting, instead, is for you to do something positive such as “I will do …” stuff that will help you set goals of a more positive nature and, therefore, something that can be monitored and rewarded by you in a progressive way!

Set Your ONE Goal

This is a very simple task and it requires a few minutes of attention at most, not hours or days. Set yourself down in a quiet place at home or work, where no one will disturb you; turn off your mobile devices, the internet, and every other electronic item that can likely distract you. All you need is one single piece of paper and a pen or pencil and you are all set.

Now before you go crazy writing out all your objectives and intentions and actions, sit comfortably and do some calm yet serious & open minded thinking to figure what you want to do. You might reflect on the past years but don’t dwell on them too much. The trick is to use all that information from the past to mentally list out the few things that are important going forward. And then collapse that short list of important items and shape them to the ONE KEY ITEM that would be your goal.

There will be many mental distractions and the mental monkey will jump from topic to topic all over the map. But be resilient, and calmly stay in control. Don’t spend too much time on any item irrespective of whether you want to list down or disregard that item. Just think smooth and swiftly zero in on just the one key thing that you want to do.

Think and write down the ONE thing that you want to do.

Not what you don’t want to do; not how you want to ring in the new year, nor the many positive actions that you want to undertake; not how you want to do nor who’s help you are going to take; not what’s it going to cost – No!

Just simply write down the one thing that you want to do. Your goal.

Thinking about your desires and finalizing on the one important that you want to do will take, maybe ten minutes. Writing it down will take a few seconds.

You should be done in under 15 minutes!

Here’s a neat trick – don’t do anything more at this time. Just let that one single desire, goal, objective or dream wash over you, fill your senses and seep into your system. Your mind should be locked on to it and you should be committed to it.

Let just the ONE objective remain with you for a day or two. Don’t sweat the how, where, and the other stuff yet, you can do it after a couple of days.

Flesh Out Your ONE Goal

Now that the one objective is set in stone (so to say), it is time to figure the details of how, with whose help, when, etc. This activity could very well take a whole day or two but it will give you a roadmap / dashboard at the end of the exercise.

Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. was a United States Army general who commanded military in the Vietnam War. He famously said, "When eating an elephant take one bite at a time." which translates to a simple "When you doing something that is difficult, do it slowly and carefully".

In our context, we break down the big objective into smaller, manageable and quantifiable objectives that are easy to monitor, and create milestones and action items against them. And at every milestone, the questions could be “What can I do better?” or “What can I do to make things better?”.


As an example and to summarize the above, here are the steps:

1.       Sit down to think calmly and to internally brainstorm, allowing the mind to flow from the past to the present and mixing up the thoughts to come up with a list of a few items like “I want to be implement this great idea”, “I want a job that I enjoy”, “I want to be the master of my destiny”, “I want to make money”, “I want to have a social standing” and “I want a balanced personal and professional life”.
2.       These items can easily collapse to “I want to be an entrepreneur”.
3.       Let that thought settle in for a couple of days to commit to being an entrepreneur. This is the big objective or dream.
4.       Once the commitment is a hundred percent, hopefully in the next couple of days, create a plan with the next moves with quantifiable objectives and a clear time scale.
5.       Define the scope of the objectives and detail the activities and cover what, how, when, where, with whom / with what resources, etc. These constitute the strategic processes to adopt to accomplish the objective.
6.       Then define the milestones and review schedule with questions to address at those review points. These are hard questions that will cover What can I do better?”, “What can I do to make things better?” and so on. These constitute the navigational aids to attain the objective.


Kall Ramanathan

ValueStrat Consulting @ValueStrat helps businesses understand where they are currently and what they need to do to get where they want to go. For this, we provide essential strategic plans and approaches, called “Keys”, to enable businesses to open up competencies and clear inefficiencies.

ValueStrat gets to the DNA of business - Desire, Need and Ability - to help you ask some critical questions such as discussed above. Check out for more

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Big Deal About Big Data

First of all, what is Big Data? Wikipedia defines Big Data as “… any collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process them using traditional data processing applications.”

OK, when we read this definition, most often we don’t proceed beyond the “data sets so large” part and end up thinking that Big Data is “really huge and vast amounts of data”. Consequently, it might lead one to believe that all you need is monster processing power to mine, scrutinize and bring to heel this big daddy.

In fact, when I asked a senior executive at a multinational telecom company about what they thought of Big Data and Analytics, they said that it was “… an exciting field of business analysis where you got to examine gazillion bytes of complex data and figured the usage and other characteristics of their subscribers so that they could serve them better.” Not a bad response, however, it is only partly correct.

So, in order to get the most out of the Big Data, let us get our Big Data 101 primer and go through some definitions and descriptions real quick.

Definition of Big Data

Big Data refers to a collection of data that is vast in its size, coming from varied sources such as traditional customer information systems & other enterprise level transactions, machine-generated data such as smart billing systems, call registers, online and automated store transactions, social media streams, web and e-commerce stores and now, you could even add data from the Internet of Things (IoT).

The 3 V’s of Big Data

There are three basic V’s – Volume, Velocity and Variety - that can be used to define Big Data. (In fact, you have a few more V’s that, last I saw, added up to 6 V’s and double what I am describing here, but more about that later). For now, the 3 V’s that characterize Big Data are:

Volume:      This is the first part of the definition from Wikipedia referenced at the top of this post and is basically the size of the data, represented maybe not in terabytes (TB, 1012 bytes), but perhaps more likely in petabytes (PB, 1015 bytes), exabyte (EB, 1018 bytes), zettabyte (ZB, 1021 bytes), and so on. To get an idea of the scale of this, imagine all the data that comes in to a call data register at a telecom company considering the millions subscribers calling each other. What volume of data was generated in the entire year of 2000 is perhaps now being generated every minute! Therefore, traditional databases, software programs and analytics find it too difficult to handle data in this large scale. Newer technologies and data tools will have to be deployed to mine, manage and analyze.

Velocity:      This is simply the speed and frequency at which the data gets generated. We are talking about data that is generated from the Enterprise Systems, Web & e-Commerce transactions, machines and subscriber engagements, all coming in real-time, near real-time, batch and periodic rates. How fast one can sample these fast flowing data to examine and derive useful business information and intelligence.

Variety:        This represents the different types of data that come from a multiplicity of sources. They could be structured data as in financial databases or unstructured data as in text, emails, images, audio, video, etc., and coming in from different types of sources such as ERP, web, social media, e-commerce transactions, etc. And then there is the Internet of Things (IoT) which tends to combine traditional and non-traditional data that stream-in and change at a rapid pace.

4 More V’s

Here are four more V’s beyond the above that are being used to define Big Data:

Veracity / Validity :   This signifies the dependability and uncertainty of data. Considering the multiple sources from which data gets generated, it is important to consider how much accuracy and trustworthiness can be attached to the different sets of data coming in. New technology helps us handle the quality, accuracy and abbreviated forms of data such as emoticons, hashtags, etc., better.

Value:           Many consider this as the most important V, the holy grail of Big Data because it all boils down to how the vast volume of a variety of data that gets blasted into our servers can be converted to economic value. How the intrinsic information can be extracted from it and transformed to revenue makes this a key characteristic. For example, a telecom company can use the information extracted to analyze subscriber and do better churn management.

Viability:     This means practicability and is indicative of what the analysis and data infrastructure can provide in real terms, over and above just the ability to handle and store large scale, complex data. What business rules can be generated, what attributes of data relating to purchase cycles or purchasing history can be used to predict buying behavior, etc.

Volatility:    This is about what is the window of opportunity the company has for particular pieces or sets of data. It is important to know the relevance and life of the data so that you can have efficient and accurate business analytics.

Big Data Myths

Big data is not just confined to the field of technology, nor is it the responsibility of the IT department. It belongs to the entire company, specifically the business and marketing functions and helps in product development, customer engagement, service & retention, revenue enhancement, positioning and a myriad of other critical aspects of business.

Also, Big Data is not a hype or fad generated by some Silicon Valley data dweebs. Big Data technologies and tools help examine and analyze the various structured and unstructured data to segment, understand customer behavior, get direct and indirect feedback and make customer engagement more fulfilling to generate value.

While it is tempting to see Big Data as the solution to all the problems and as an answer to the question of what next in the growth cycle, the most critical thing is not technology but a clear strategy on how as to how you would harness this to generate insights that help build business rules and fine tune processes to move your business forward.


2.       Wikipedia – Big Data
4.       WIRED – Missing V’s
5.       inside BIGDATA

Kall Ramanathan

ValueStrat Consulting @ValueStrat helps businesses understand where they are currently and what they need to do to get where they want to go. For this, we provide essential strategic plans and approaches, called “Keys”, to enable businesses to open up competencies and clear inefficiencies.

ValueStrat gets to the DNA of business - Desire, Need and Ability - to help you ask some critical questions such as discussed above. Check out for more