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The hardest part of the job is to play

Posted by on Jan 8, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

All study no play makes Jack a dull boy. Well what if Jack was a wannapreneur? It would not only make him dull but leave his ideas die too before even coming to life. We all have so many ideas in our heads which may or may not solve the problems we take up completely. But these ‘may nots’ often kill the ‘mays’ and we jump from one idea to next before trying out the previous one; the reason being generally is to find a bit more certainty of success in what we finally do or sometimes more innovation or creativity in our ideas. And in all this expectation of finding a solution that looks perfect in its ideation, we forget to start. We forget that innovation and creativity can’t come out of the blue from ideation; they need a ground to grow and we have to prepare that ground first with even the minimal resource and skill that we have. That We must give our ideas a try; that we must play even if we aren’t sure to win.

We learnt this lesson in the paper prototyping workshop given by Akshat Raghava at ASLI. The whole day struggle with the paper and tools made us realize how easy it is to ideate the perfect solution but how difficult it is to put it together. Perfect solutions or the most innovative ones require a lot of skill, precision and time. I completely failed at first while putting together the grand scheme of plan that I ideated for my prototype and learnt how I should have started small and iterated to reach the better alternatives. So I started all over again, this time with one idea at a time learning from the small failures that I met at various steps. We also realized how difficult it’s to create something even if it is just with paper and required consistent effort and patience of learning; and why we we must keep on playing with the hands instead of our heads in order to make smaller mistakes and learn from them.

We must give our ideas life in our hands before they die in our head.

We may see it like this: Ideas are eager to come to the life and breathe in the real world and a wannapreneur’s job is to play with those ideas. It’s the hardest part of his job but is the only rewarding one. He can afford to fail but not to miss the slightest chance of success and to make sure he doesn’t, he must keep playing and learning. The harder he plays, the more he learns. Of course, not all ideas are worth playing with but we never know which ones are worthy before we try them at least once. We must think before going ahead with an idea but not over think. Over thinking often kills not only the idea but also our opportunity to learn from our mistakes and become better. The mantra to fail fast is to be remembered and I would also add what I learnt that we must fail small in order to succeed big.

We should not compromise with our ideas until we see them failing. And this requires that we keep testing our ideas because that’s what is needed to reach the best solutions -iterations; you need to leave behind all the mediocre ones to reach the best.
As Niel Bohr puts it – An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that could be made in that field.

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Market Research Tips for Beginners/ Startup Founders

Posted by on Jan 6, 2016 in Adianta School for Leadership and Innovation | 0 comments

What is the code for a successful startup or an idea and which is the most effective and foremost activity which serves the base for all information base, innovations and decisions in an organization? Answer is not that difficult, Its Market research; actually Market research is the only source for gathering all the latest external information at large which in return gives the purpose to all the activities going around in the present and coming in the future. No manager or an entrepreneur could ever took any key decision with the guesswork, obviously there is some calculations involved in the market potential and forecasts reports otherwise nobody would risks the money involved (P.S. Everyone loves money). Still some ideas don’t get the success or very weak response after being investing much time and money on the research. Market research matters, when done correctly, you gain decision-making power. If done incorrectly, it could end up costing your company millions.

For an entrepreneur or a business it’s the tool for spotting trends, validator of ideas and the base for innovation. I also as a budding entrepreneur had chance to do market research for an idea for which I and other partners have tried different tools, techniques and sources for that. So, I think I can share our experiences with you to get some advantage when you do it for yours. Though we are not experts, here are our learnings from our market research efforts.

  • The objective of the market research study or the thesis should be clearly defined and precisely mention the main and sub points to fulfill the purpose in the exact manner. The target group/ audience must be defined at this stage so as to design the questions and the direction of the research to be done.

  • Test your questionnaire before finalizing it by practicing it with your friends and peers, use their feedback to make changes in. Respondents recruitment sheet and criteria must be prepared according to the target group chosen.

  • Choose the tool as online and offline media to conduct the research which suits best to the target audience. Try to use both if it satisfies the conditions and criteria, It will give wide and deep understanding of the market.

  • Make respondents feel relaxed and comfortable during the interview. The questions must be open ended and asked in the logical order. Don’t assume anything, ask questions for it.

  • Always keep the notebook handy and record responses and notes you are observing, note down small details relevant to your project. Take pictures of the people and objects to make reference afterwards (ask for permission before taking pictures).

  • Put all the data in one place and try to categorize the similar points in one header; try to correlate if the data is highly scattered. Come with clearly defined, grouped sub heads which are proper structured and organized to make it easy to share and understand to other team members.

  • Use visual representation techniques such as charts, bar graphs and pie charts to show the relation between key variables and make it more of the data in tabular form. Bring out the emerging trends from the data and brainstorm to gain the different perspectives on the data.

  • Using these techniques and tools we did our research for a travel platform. Though our target audience was very specific (22 to 30 years) we did our research offline in various places in Delhi. These are the certain tips to follow for your market research study, you can tweak and adopt the process as you feel comfortable to go, you will learn during the process. This is it for now, I ll bring more learnings from our journey to make our idea work, stay tuned. You can reach out to me at or follow me on _gurugaurav twitter.

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    सपनो के भारत के निर्माता

    Posted by on Oct 14, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

    रात्रि को ठण्ड ने जब,
    निर्बल शरीर को ठिठोर दिया,
    फटी हुई चादर ओढ़कर,
    पाँव सिकोड़ कर, कठोर तन कर ,
    उसने अपने मन की ऊर्जा से,
    बढ़ती ठण्ड को समेट लिया !

    किरण फूटने से पहले वाली,
    रेलगाड़ी ने जब सन्देश दिया,
    छण भर में ही उसने अपना,
    पूरा दिन भर देख लिया !

    ईंट ईंट से उसने न जाने,
    कितने भवनों को जोड़ दिया।
    सड़क को, पुलिया को, और
    नदियों को बांधो से घेर लिया !

    छोटी सी दिहाड़ी कमाई पे,
    महंगाई ने जब चोट किया,
    कुछ रोटियों के साथ उसने
    अपने सपनों को भी लपेट लिया !

    इन्ही रोटियों की खातिर,
    उसने अपने सपनो को भी बेच दिया।
    शिछा से वंचित उसे, अन्धेर ने ,
    अपने चपेट में ले लिआ !

    थके हारे उस निर्बल शरीर को,
    रात्रि में ठण्ड ने जब फिर से ठिठोर दिया।
    उसी पुरानी चादर को फिर से उसने ओढ़ लिया।
    सपनो के भारत में लगे, उस नवयुवक ने,
    सपने देखना छोड़ दिया !!

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    Two on One

    Posted by on Oct 12, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

    I had picked up Daniel Kahnman’s book ‘Thinking Fast and slow’ two years ago. A modest purchase which after a few attempts, I thought would be best adorning my shelf. Sometime back, I ended up at a place with a discussion aimed at the two characters of the book, System 1 and System 2. Here is how Daniel perceives them.

    System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and with hardly a sense of voluntary control.
    System 2 requires attention and mental effort, a voluntary and subjective experience of agency, choice and concentration.

    The beauty of the book lies in the experience it creates. Amazed at how the author has managed to let the readers see through what has been stated in black and white. And that is where the conflict started for me. He has described system 1 as the hero of the book, that is where, he says all the action is. While my system 1 would be elated, the second one wasn’t very pleased with this piece of information.

    So ‘it’ made me dig into experiences where it really took over the system 1, even though Kahnman would have wanted it, in such situations to sit back and relax. But what if, it were to be correct. Could there possibly be a misconnection? a different wiring? or just that the wires got entangled and to simplify the matters the brain reworked the circuit?

    Kahnman says we can’t control where system 1 gets involved and how but we can exercise these rights with our system 2. And there’s a fair chance we may be over doing it. System 2 gives us the feel that we have a sense of control over things, over our decisions, judgements and we tend to use more and more of system 2 to surround ourselves with the illusion that we have some sort of control over ‘situations’. System 1 is more of a gut approach, a random shot, reflex. So in order to create more of that wonderful experience we tend to scrutinize the activities of our system 1 too much (maybe when we are accused of thinking too much :P ) But system 2 doesn’t like surprises. It’ll reflect on arguably similar sets of experiences, connect hypothetical situations, draw random conclusions and convince us with irrational logic of what’s right and why. Mind you, it even knows what convinces us so it also banks on experience. Poor sys1 doesn’t get that much attention.

    System 1 works seamlessly to generate data for system 2, most of the time they work in tandem so that the effort is minimized and output optimized. Its a process to make our lives simpler. But like most relationships of our digital era, this one too has become complicated. Our wish to preside over situation is making us analyze even minor pieces of information or acts and that exactly what is driving us crazy. That is why we often have people reminding us to ‘chill’. This is also killing and infringing the creative space that all of us have.

    In past we related humans with limitations, to err was human but with time to err has been to fail. People are often quoted saying “in my field of work there’s a zero chance of error”. Previously a poor person might have been called ‘unfortunate’ but now he is looked down upon as a loser.We have come to believe that whatever we think of, it can be done, achieved or reached. In doing so we have almost enslaved our system1, it acts according to the whims of the other one. The harmony or the efficient division of labour that was programmed has been altered.

    When people said some decisions are made by the heart and some by the mind, they indirectly referred these characters of Kahnman but now the game has changed. People are even entering into relationships which seem logical and most wouldn’t find it surprising at all. Cause we may have been wired now :P. That is why we have applications which can predict the health and longevity of relationships, because its mostly reduced to data and logic.

    So I feel there is need to hit the internet, to know what are the 7 ,14, or 21 things that we need to do to ensure that we return to our organic state. For my case I am pretty sure whatever it is, it’ll have to go through my system 2, will have to be accessed whether it aligns with my goals and career plans and of course it has to be logical and practical.

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    Design as a “Way of Thinking”

    Posted by on Oct 10, 2015 in Adianta School for Leadership and Innovation | 0 comments

    Design and creativity are considered the two most important skills for an individual to succeed. But both get often related with only certain professions like artists, graphic designer and architects as people weigh them on the scale of visual beauty and do not consider them in problem solving. Fortunately, Steve Jobs’ statement, “Design is not just how it looks like or feels like, but how it works”, gives other professions, involved in the value creating chain, equal credit for design & creativity as the designers. The definition of design and creativity has evolved from being identified as important individual skills to the powerful social tools that can be utilized for solving complex business, social and cultural problems. There is a new way of thinking developed which employs these tools to understand a problem and solve it through a process that designers applied unknowingly. The process is called Design Thinking. The notion of design as a “way of thinking” in sciences can be traced to Herbert A. Simon in his book The Sciences of Artifical, and in engineering to Robert Mckim’s 1973 book Experiences in Visual Thinking. Today, Tim Brown and David M. Kelly, the founders of IDEO, are expanding the design thinking philosophy.

    So, What is Design Thinking?

    It’s a methodology of solving the complex problems applicable to all walks of life. Problems have patterns and the scientific approach of problem solving employs analysis for identifying those patterns to find a solution i.e. a problem-centric approach. But design thinking approaches the problem in a holistic way and applies the process of synthesis creating the first solution through a defined process and then iterating to find other alternative better solutions. However, Tim & Kelly argue that design thinking incorporates both analysis and synthesis approach towards problem solving as every synthesis is built upon the results of preceding analysis.
    The core stages of solving a problem through design thinking can be divided in different phases:
    – Empathize
    – Define
    – Ideate
    – Prototype
    – Iterate/Test

    Design Thinking diagram

    The 1st stage is to empathize with your customer. The process starts with people rather than problem. Put yourself into their shoes to directly see what’s going on around from a customer’s point of view. Interact with the people, learn from them and find the insights by asking questions. But it is important to be away from judgements as it dilutes the process of questioning. The right way is to approach with curiosity and respect and with a beginner’s eye. Keep asking WHY until you reach the end.

    The 2nd phase is of defining the problem. Find out what is expected, hoped for or needed. It’s time to focus by thinking in a convergent manner. The need should be identified as a Verb and not a Noun. The approach should be solution-focused and not problem focused.

    The 3rd phase is ideating which is mainly brain-storming. The task is to shft to divergent thinking and bringing ideas. Write down each and every idea that comes to you. Don’t judge or weigh your ideas against each other and don’t jump to conclusion. Let the ideas flow; it will require effort but embrace the obstacles by considering each and every thought while not diverting from the topic.

    The next stage is to incorporate the ideas into something tangible. Make prototype by arranging your most relevant thought and integrate the ideas into a solutions. Don’t judge the solution yet.

    The last phase is testing and receiving feedback on your prototype and responding by doing the iterations to find alternative better solutions.

    The process seems very simple but mastering it requires a lot of adaptive practice to choose the right inflection point and appropriate next stage which needs high order intellectual capacity and is learn-able. While learning, What we must avoid is resistance, utopian attitude, fear of failure and playing the devil’s advocate during the ideation & prototyping stage and judgement, heuristics & assumptions during other stages of the process.

    Design thinking is changing the way problems are being solved in 21st century. With a human centred design approach, the problems are being viewed with several perspectives – extreme and balanced. The principles of design thinking are creativity, ambidextrous thinking, user-centricity, team-work, curiosity and optimism. It aims, not directly at the final solution in a linear manner but at creating a better future in a cyclic manner of above mentioned stages. The idea is to convert the problem into a design problem and identify inter-related patterns which can be mathematical, behavioural, scientific, economical, rational, irrational or otherwise and consider all the visible and ambiguous aspects to reach the known and unknown parameters of the problem statement to find a solution, then iterating to reach the best solution. The benefit with this method is that the risk is mitigated at a very early stage and the cost comes down due to iterations at prototyping stage; however, sometimes, success is not met easily and requires a lot of iterations which you can sometimes see on the face of designers in an organization. Yet design thinking is a powerful method to solve even many ill-defined problems using the human centred approach where more analytical approach of science and engineering fail to define the problem within the known technical domain.

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    The Fire

    Posted by on Oct 8, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

    It was a spark that became a fire, I as a young kid used to look at the things in a different way and wonder why nobody is doing anything about the problems of pollution, environmental threats and state of technology.  The mind always used to look for the solutions to see the desired change, that urge to make everyone’s lives better and empower people with innovative products has turned into fire and has led to leave the job in marketing research. This burning desire has actually taken the center place now and driving me to go off track.

    That’s why I chose the different route and came to Adianta to become active member of its innovative education system so that I learn from that and develop solutions backed by innovation. Innovation is the key for development and whatever we see around us is the result of these over the time, thanks to inventors and leaders to make that possible. So, to ideate and implement on the next generation of products and ideas, I needed a space surrounded with intellectuals and change-makers, Adianta is serving it well. The Learning system at Adianta is different from the conventional ones and very well aligned with the needs of current startup culture, that’s what I appreciate. So, I look forward to see the transition in the next 12 months and achieve the goals and fulfill the fire from the early stage of my life.

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    Empathy, Creativity, Rationality- Design Thinking

    Posted by on Oct 8, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

    This third blog post comes after a long gap which talks about the workshop on design thinking by Mike Knowles. The subject line of the mailer had already generated a curiosity around this workshop and I was definitely looking forward to it.
    The morning of the workshop began with a quick introduction of all of the fellows with Mike Knowles. As the session began to unfold, Mike acquainted us with the different facets of design thinking which were empathy, creativity and rationality. After some discussion rounds on the facets, there was another interesting pottery session. During the pottery session, in which we were given basic pots to work upon, I could actually correlate with the three facets of design thinking. Every time I faced an obstacle I could relate to the intensity of effort which goes into pot making.
    Overall, it turned out to be an interactive session. A great business opportunity could be sensed in harnessing the knowledge and experience of skilled but uneducated labour for creating a value proposition in the businesses.

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