Sunday, November 23, 2008

Leadership: Knowing your role in the process

People often envy and criticize leaders and question what they do. Here is a simple answer: they are people in the front making decisions. Leadership is for those who have the courage to make decisions and are not afraid of failing. In my view there are three types of people in the world - whether it is your personal life or professional life.

Decision makers
These are the leaders. The people who analyze information at their hands, filter the important from the unimportant, and take a decision. Decisions are often taken on partial information. If precise and complete information was always available you could train computers to take decisions. An important aspect of leadership is knowing that there is no way to lead without failures. Bad leaders are often who are afraid to fail. These leaders delay acknowledging failures and hence make the consequences of those failures bigger.

Influencers who understand that they are not in charge of making the decisions but realize the importance of participating in the decision making process. Influencers are of 3 types:

  1. Future leaders who are training themselves by putting themselves in the leader's shoes.
  2. Perpetual influencers who are best suited as advisers to leaders and lack other aspects of leadership
  3. The negative influencers who are typically putting their personal agendas ahead of the leader's primary responsibility. Leaders need to recognize this group and eliminate their influence.

This is a very important and perhaps the most important group. They implement the leader's decisions and vision. Followers need clarity. Clarity in:

  1. Decisions: Clear articulation of the decisions, the rationale, objective and goals.
  2. Communication: Clear communication and constant reminder of the goals
  3. Operational mechanism: Clear way of setting goals, measuring success and tracking progress
Each group has its place and is a necessary function for progress. What is important is to know who you are and the role you are playing and do it well.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Microsoft PDC 2008

I attended Microsoft PDC 2008. It was my first time at this event. I must say that I was impressed as seeing Microsoft's focus on the right things. Below is a highlight of areas I found interesting.

Azure Service Platform
Yes, Microsoft is late to arrive to the cloud computing race. Amazon has shown world the way to monetize the cloud computing paradigm. But I think Microsoft is thinking right and doing right in this space. Cloud Computing is not a choice for Microsoft. It is a natural progression in the evolution to a distributed computing model. It has realized that conquering this new frontier is critical for its existence. I believe Microsoft is going to make it easy to extend every aspect of software development, deployment and service to cloud computing and become one of the top 3 players in this space.

Windows 7
With a focus on Performance and usability, I think Microsoft is finally thinking right. I have long believed that the PC has changed from being a computing device to a consumer electronic device. Apple has demonstrated this through the way it makes it easy to do the most common things easily on its Mac units. I believe Microsoft is going to make the PC a consumer device with its Windows 7 OS. One example is the demo of the ease of home networking shown at the PDC 2008

Microsoft boasted about Silverlight 2.0 and said it has 25% penetration of all internet connected PCs. That is pretty impressive and demonstrates the distribution channel that Microsoft has through its dominance in the PC market. I think Silverlight is an important technology in Microsoft's overall cloud computing strategy. Good to see that Microsoft is aggressively working on adoption, developer productivity and creative tools around Silverlight

Amazing new technology. I had seen it on TV when it was launched. I was more impressed when I played the scavanger hunt game on 5 sets of surface computers located at 5 different locations at the event. It demonstrated the capability of camera based vision system, multi-touch, intelligence and ruggedness very well