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Thursday, February 24, 2005
Evolution
I have been struggling with lots of decision-making over the past six months.
Professionally - I did my Bachelors of Commerce and then went on to do my MBA from a reputed institute in India. I then started work with a Management Consulting firm in Bombay and was heading for the usual "corporate ladder" move when one evening - after I'd been on the job for eleven months, my then-boyfriend asks me "What are you doing at so-and-so company?" "Are you happy with what you are doing?" "Is this really what you wanted to do with your life?"

With each question - it became more and more certain that I wasn't going to be doing that job for very long. And sure enough, within a month, I quit. And although I did go for other interviews - for similar jobs and even got accepted at a couple of places, I did not take up the job.

For six months I returned to living with my parents at a remote village - where my father is posted - he is an officer in the Indian Army. For six months my companion was a laptop and the internet, which I used to explore what I would eventually be doing with my life. Meanwhile I also got married - to my boyfriend who'd asked me those questions. Both of us were out of jobs at that point and we had no idea where we were going individually. Although we knew we were heading someplace good.

It's been six months since we got married and here is what I do currently:
I freelance as a graphic designer, illustrator, photographer and do a lot of design stuff with my friends at Bracket Consulting. I also paint, am planning to teach Photoshop at a college and took my first holiday after I did my Bachelors of Commerce - the B.Com course got over in 2000! Since then it's been a roller coaster.

Right now, at the stage I am - time seems to be moving so slow - I want to do so many things - like paint with acrylics on handmade paper - I tried oil on canvas but it just isn't my thing - I can't wait for the oil to dry!! It takes too long! Or it's just that maybe I do not know how to paint oils!

So that brings me to the evolution of this blog - I am planning to get my own website finally - it should hopefully be clear in a day or two whether I will be getting the domain name or not - www.aside.in and then the following places where I am on the web should hopefully come all under one umbrella!

My Graphic Design and Illustration bare bones portfolio: http://www.flickr.com/photos/naina
My Photography blog: http://asidephotos.blogspot.com
My Latest Photography assignment: http://latestphoto.blogspot.com
My wedding Photos: http://myweddingphotos.blogspot.com
My Design blog: http://asidedesigns.blogspot.com
And ofcourse this very blog that you are reading.

Phew!! I'm sure it gets confusing for someone who just wants to know what the heck I do for a living! I also have innumerable "professional" profiles on openBC, LinkedIn, Ryze, Zero Degrees, etc. etc. - most of which I never use - except openBC and LinkedIn.

So apart from the www.aside.in, I am planning to keep this blog separate - the other blogs/websites will have a redirector to the main website, but this blog will stand alone with a link from the parent site. The only question is, since I am currently away from the Innovation focus, how do I incorporate that change temporarily - because I have no intentions of ever leaving the Innovation field but at the same time I need to incorporate my design stuff on this blog. Maybe I need a major design overhaul to incorporate both elements!
posted by Naina @ Permalink 2/24/2005 09:21:00 PM   1 comments  --- Google It! ---
No time?!
Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.

-H. Jackson Brown, Jr., writer
posted by Naina @ Permalink 2/24/2005 09:11:00 PM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Holiday in Goa!
Am out for a much - MUCH - deserved holiday to the beaches of Goa! This is what I'm hoping to see! SEE FLICKR PHOTOS TAGGED WITH "GOA". Apart from the beaches, there's the Wednesday flea market I will be going for - planning to buy lots of colorful clothes! Colorful and short clothes! Phew! We're driving from Bombay to Goa - four of us, in a friend's car. Whoopee! Will be back on Friday - 18th of February!

And oh! HAPPY VALENTINE's DAY!
posted by Naina @ Permalink 2/13/2005 01:06:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Saturday, February 05, 2005
Creative Destruction
Source Articles: McKinsey Quarterly
(Free Registration Required)

1: Creative destruction

SUMMARY:

The first Standard and Poor's index of 90 major US companies was created in the 1920s. The companies on that original list stayed there for an average of 65 years. By 1998, the average anticipated tenure of a company on the expanded S&P 500 was 10 years. If history is a guide, over the next quarter century no more than a third of today's major corporations will survive in an economically important way.

When corporate culture kills
How can corporations make themselves more like the market? The general prescription is to increase the rate of creative destruction to the level of the market itself, without losing control of present operations. As sensible as this recommendation is, it has proved difficult to implement.

Cultural lock-in
Cultural lock-in is the last in a series of "emotional" phases in a corporation's life, a series that mirrors, remarkably, that of human beings. In the early years of a corporation, just after its founding, the dominant emotion is passion-the sheer energy to make things happen. When passion rules, information and analysis are ignored in the name of vision: "We know the right answer; we do not need analysis."

The causes of cultural lock-in
Why does cultural lock-in occur? The heart of the problem is the formation of hidden sets of rules, or mental models, that once formed are extremely difficult to change. Mental models are the core concepts of the corporation, the beliefs and assumptions, the cause-and-effect relationships, the guidelines for interpreting language and signals, the stories repeated within the corporate walls. Charlie Munger, a longtime friend of and co-investor with Warren Buffett and vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, calls mental models the "theoretical frameworks that help investors better understand the world."

How the markets enable change
Markets, on the other hand, lacking culture, leadership, and emotion, do not experience the bursts of desperation, depression, denial, and hope that corporations face. The market has no lingering memories or remorse. It has no mental models. The market does not fear cannibalization, customer channel conflict, or dilution. It simply waits for the forces at play to work out-for new companies to be created and for acquisitions to clear the field.

Redesigning the corporation for discontinuity
The right of any corporation to exist is not perpetual but has to be continuously earned.
-Robert Simons

The market has pointed the way to a solution. In response to the tension that builds between the potential for improved performance and the actual performance of large businesses in an era of increasingly fast economic change, there are certain kinds of firms-particularly private equity firms-that have demonstrated the ability to change at the pace and scale of the market, and they have earned sustained superior returns for doing so. The two kinds of private equity firms-principal investing firms and venture capitalists-are quite different from each other, but each looks somewhat like the holding companies of the late 19th century. It is possible to imagine that private equity firms will form the seeds of the industrial giants of the 21st century.

The road ahead
Long-term corporate performance has not matched the performance of the markets, because corporations do not adapt as fast as the markets do. This is due to the way corporations evolve, not because of the way they accomplish their day-to-day work. For historical reasons, as we have discussed above, corporations have been designed to operate-to produce goods and services-rather than to evolve. In order to evolve at the pace of the markets, they have to get better at creation and destruction-the two key elements of evolution that are missing.

The point is to let the market control wherever possible. Be suspicious of control mechanisms if they stifle more than they control. Let those who run a business determine the best mix of controls for their business (they know the system best), and shift the burden of integration to the corporate level rather than designing uniform systems that have to be implemented, throughout a corporation, independent of the business. When such changes are implemented, the focus of the corporation will shift from minimizing risk, and thereby inadvertently stifling creativity, to facilitating creativity-and that is what is needed to strengthen long-term performance.

2. Making the most of uncertainty

SUMMARY:

In extremely uncertain environments, shaping strategies may deliver higher returns, with lower risk, than they do in less uncertain times.

Shape or adapt? For years, executives have regarded the question as perhaps their most fundamental strategic choice. Is it better for a company's competitive position to try to influence, or even determine, the outcome of crucial and currently uncertain elements of an industry's structure and conduct? Or is the wiser course to scope out defensible positions within an industry's existing structure and then to move with speed and agility to recognize and capture new opportunities when the market changes?

The different shapes of shapers and adapters
An essential starting point is understanding your alternatives. Shaping and adapting strategies may take many different forms. Shapers generally attempt to get ahead of uncertainty by driving industry change their way. Some, like Qualcomm, aim to increase the probability that a preferred technology or business process will become an industry standard. Others grapple with uncertainty by introducing fundamental product, service, or business-system innovations intended to redefine the basis of competition in an industry: think of the low-price, point-to-point air travel model of Southwest Airlines, Dell Computer's direct-sales approach, or Netscape Communications' breakthrough Internet browser, Navigator.

Understanding uncertainty
Whether a company should attempt to shape or adapt depends largely on the level and nature of the uncertainty it faces. To put things simply, when it faces very high levels of uncertainty about variables it can influence, shaping makes most sense. Adapting is preferable when key sources of value creation are relatively stable or outside the company's control.

Tailoring choices to the four levels of uncertainty
As a rule of thumb for making decisions, then, shaping makes the most sense when uncertainty is high and can be influenced by a company's actions. To fine-tune this approach, a company must consider ways of varying how it thinks about shaping versus adapting-depending on the nature of the uncertainty it faces. Uncertainty always takes one of four general forms. Understanding which form you face is crucial when you decide whether to shape or adapt.

Other factors
As executives face their shape-or-adapt choices, they must weigh factors beyond the level of residual uncertainty-factors such as the external market environment and the company's capabilities and aspirations. Shaping strategies, for example, make most sense in markets that offer strong first-mover advantages. One market that may not offer them is Internet-based commerce, which by its very nature invites comparison shopping, thus perhaps undermining one of the most important potential first-mover advantages: brand and customer loyalty. As a result, it isn't clear yet whether e-commerce shapers such as Amazon.com and eBay have established any sustainable first-mover advantages. Being an e-commerce adapter-replicating good ideas and avoiding bad ones-may offer returns similar to those won by pioneering shapers, without all the risk. Only time will tell.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 2/05/2005 02:16:00 PM   1 comments  --- Google It! ---
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