Demo day at Shotang

Earlier this month, we, at Shotang, held our first demo day. It was a Friday afternoon event on our terrace. We could not have had better weather that day. The intent of this event is to showcase the technology and the product that is being built to enable the first large scale retail distribution platform. This would hence enable all the functions of the Shotang family to literally play with the product and gain a deeper understanding.

This was driven by the awesome product team at Shotang, ably supported by the equally awesome tech team. The product team coined a name for the demo day as well – Shotgun. We ran with a Wild West theme through the communications.

This being the first demo day, the event focused on the journey of an order on the Shotang platform. We wanted everyone to experience the full flow – from the retailer placing an order through the Shotang retailer app, to how it flows through the seller dashboard ecosystem, and the falcon logistics apps, which powers our pickers and the delivery executives.

We had set up POD stations on the terrace – one each for the retailer experience, seller experience, and the logistics platform. Engineers and PMs manned these booths and explained the flows with pride. There was a complete test bed that had been created on a test city, where guests could place orders, and trace their order through the entire platform.

It so happens that in a company such as Shotang, day to day agility forces each function in the company to focus deeply on their own domains. For example, the corporate finance team spends its waking days poring over the sales and spends numbers, but often do not get enough visibility into the actual product. Similarly for other teams such as our customer delight team, our commercial finance team, alliances team, and so on.

What did we get out of this?

  • Singular pride for each PM and engineer who showcased the products that they develop. You should have seen the energy on the floor.
  • Zonal leaders (P&L owners) from each of the 7 cities that we are live in, got insights into what is the current state of product and tech, and what is in store for the future.
  • Greater visibility on the amount of tech that goes in to developing our platform
  • Increased empathy for our end customer and what she goes through.
  • So much feedback that came in from non-tech folks on improvements that could be made with respect to user interfaces.

Moving forward:

We intend to have a Shotgun event every month. Product and tech developments since the previous month would be demonstrated. We would sync the event to the monthly planning meeting of the Zonal managers. We anticipate that the local field leaders and the zonal leaders would take back to their respective field teams, the latest developments and future plans.

At the end of the day, It is also a fun event, where we celebrate all the hard work that has gone in, to do, what we all love doing – ship!

BBMP door-to-door collection

I recently got to know that BBMP has a door-to-door collection philosophy of garbage collection. Apparently, you are not allowed to take your garbage to some location. Well, there is no location. And the BBMP collection people are supposed to take the garbage to a road corner (yes, I said road corner). From here small auto type vehicles showel in the garbage and take it to another road corner (yes, I said road corner again), from where the big garbage trucks haul it to, I dont know where – most likely a landfill.

Now two questions might have popped into your mind. Why road corners? And where is this waste segregation falling in this ‘methodology’?

garbage1
(link courtesy ibnlive)

It is road corners because, these centralized places where garbage is collected and moved into vehicles/bigger vehicles do not have waste bins. They are literally dumped on the road. So see, folks see this. For those places where the BBMP people do not go (yes, this collection does not happen everywhere), folks come and dump their garbage ‘near’ the centralized collection points. This makes these collection points larger and wider, and makes the area ‘very fragrant’ too.

bangalore.citizenmatters.in
bangalore.citizenmatters.in

Regarding waste segregation, there is none. The garbage that I mention above is ‘unified’ garbage. And even if you segregate and give, they take and dump it together in the same place.

(via thealternative.in)
(via thealternative.in)

I agree that, we should not be blaming it on the corporation (BBMP in this case). I also hear that several apartment complexes are doing their bit by trying to compost and segregate recyclable waste. And sure, I encourage as many apartments do it. But, is it not one of the civic responsibilities of the corporation to do this for us. I read somewhere that effective roads, water supply, and garbage management are the three main functions of any city corporation. Roads are written off. Water supply is off and on. And if we are expected to take care of garbage management also, so what IS the corporation doing?

My four year old son made a comment today saying, “Appa, all these cows, and stray dogs, and all other animals are in the middle of the road, only because of all this garbage on the road. When will all this garbage go away?”. If a four year old is distressed seeing this, I can only imagine.

(via deccanchronicle)
(via deccanchronicle)

This last picture is something that strikes my heart. I live less than 250m from this place. This ‘place’ appears right across the road to the Koramangala Regional Passport Office – you can see the building in the backdrop. I see this happening day in and day out. There is a residential layout on this side of the road. BBMP does not go in to collect garbage there. So what alternative do they have. They do not have a garbage bin anywhere. This is also a ‘garbage’ transfer point. So the entire layout dumps their garbage here. And the ‘transfer’ does not happen regularly either. There are cows eating that garbage all the time. That is just plain wrong.

In comparison, let us look at Chennai. It may not be perfect, but the methodology is perfect, in my opinion. There are bins on each roads. Folks are expected to come and drop their house’s garbage into the bins. There is garbage truck that has an automated mechanism to pick up the bin an dump the garbage into the truck. Bin is empty. Road is clean. I have not really seen mounds of garbage on the road anywhere in Chennai – atleast the places I have been to.

(via suhrid.net)
(via suhrid.net)

The same methodology is followed in the NCR region as well – I have seen this in Noida. And oh, this is exactly the system followed in the US too. And hm, I think all over the world too. It provides a balanced civic responsibility. Citizens are expected to put the garbage into the bins. The corporation is expected to clear the bins. You keep your side of the bargain, while I keep mine. Seems fair to me. This may not be perfect everywhere in Chennai. Sure there are overflowing bins. But there are bins. Atleast the methodology is in place.

So who is the brilliant mind who suggested this funda of the Bangalore corporation coming door to door and picking up the garbage. Even to a novice planner, this seems a non-scalable solution. 

 

My Dream Alarm Clock

alarm

I have been looking for an alarm clock with the following specifications. If any one has any info on something like this that exists, please let me know. Yes, all the specs should be met.

  • I should be able to set multiple alarms (need to wake my son up in the middle of the night for his pee-run).
  • LED display of the time with a much lesser intensity than the normal LED 8 segment displays – should be soothing to the eyes. Preferably blue colour. This display should not be ON all the time. It should come on only when I tap.
  • I should be able to set any tune for waking up (mp3).
  • Should be easy to snooze/switch off.
  • Should have dynamic snooze setting. I would want to set more snooze in the weekends vs week days.
  • Should run off rechargeable batteries (preferably li-ion). No power cords.
  • Should be small. Preferably flat and thin.
  • Should not have data connectivity. I have problems resisting urges to check email/rss feeds at all times of the day.  And no, please dont tell me I can disable data. I will on a strong urge, enable data and configure an email client in 5 minutes to check email at 2AM.

Anything available like this? Please let me know.

(image src: flickr)

Highest RoI Management Tool – the power of Thank You

thankyou

I really like the articles that Jeff Weiner’s (CEO of LinkedIn) writes. A lot of it resonates with the Engineering Manager’s mind. Short and crisply written, they portray problems and solutions of every day things in the day of an Engineering Manager.

This article on the power of thanking someone is another classic article. In summary, Jeff suggests to be mindful of the following things when saying thank you to someone:

Be thoughtful – I think this is super important. A quarterly award is an award and can make an employee happy; but being thoughtful and seeking out something that the employee would cherish and remember you for, is King.

Be Genuine – Mouthing out the words or nominating for an award with hollow words just wont cut it. You need to be genuine.

Pick your spots – Balance between over-complimenting and not rewarding enough.

Solicit suggestions – Ask around if others want to nominate someone for great work. You would not know everyone and the great work that everyone does.

Learn how to accept a compliment – This is by far one of the biggest things that I have a problem with. And I see this with so many other people. Especially very strong in the Indian culture – where humility is taught in extreme proportions. Indians just suck at accepting compliments. Try complimenting an Indian person; and they will gush out – “Oh it was nothing.”; “Oh you shouldnt have.”; “Without you, it would not have been possible”. Sure, one should be humble, but at some points, when you are complimented on something that has been successful because of you, we should accept it with grace. Yes, I am still working on this as well.

Read this article in Jeff’s words here.

(image courtesy: flickr:@nate)

Three Signs of a Leader

A great Inc.com article on signs that you might be a good leader. Contrary to some people who think, only folks who are in action all the time are good leaders, these 3 point to subtle soft skills that good leaders exhibit.

1. You lead only when you have to, not all the time.

2. You see much more than you do.

3. You change people. They achieve outcomes.

Read the full article here.

Doing what you love

Great talk by Sean Wes.

Slideset on Slideshare for those who want to flip through this quickly. Great set of informative, simple, yet very powerful slides. The slides are all black-and-white. They all have the same font. They all have 2-3 bullets or numbers per page. But the message is delivered.

He also gave this talk at Creative South. You can view the video here.

The McDonalds Effect

I use a trick with co-workers when we’re trying to decide where to eat for lunch and no one has any ideas. I recommend McDonald’s.

An interesting thing happens. Everyone unanimously agrees that we can’t possibly go to McDonald’s, and better lunch suggestions emerge. Magic!

Read the full article here.

My key two takeaways are:

  • You can use a ‘blatantly bad’ initial first step – so that people get so revulsed into getting a better quality.
  • However bad a first step is, resist the temptation to analyze it rationally. Just pause your brain right there and dump it into a first step.

(via daringfireball)

Best Advice ~ Jeff Weiner

I have been following Jeff Weiner on his LinkedIn influencer feed for a while. He is a pretty darned good writer, and his posts are very insightful. In fact, some of them are so down to earth and pragmatic, that you wonder, if this guy is really a CEO.

In his post on the best advice he ever got, he goes over some pretty deep stuff. Three things that stood out to me are:

You can do anything you set your mind to — My dad

My wife keeps telling me this, and I kept refuting it until recently. To put this to practice, I applied it to an extremely simple thing such as ‘waking up early’. You ‘really’ can do anything you set your mind to.

Everything that can be converted from an atom to a bit, will be — Nicholas Negroponte

This is deep. Very deep. Especially in the current world and time. How many times a day, do you hear – “there is an app for that.”. Be it tracking the mileage my car gives per liter of petrol, to remembering to buy a few groceries on the way back home, to figuring out the best seat in a plane, to anything that you can think about. Just anything that can be digitized, … will be.

If you could only do one thing, what would it be? — Steve Jobs

This is the one thing that I have always admired in Apple. Do one thing, and do it so darned well, that you are the best. Nothing short. The story that Jeff shares in the post is that of, how Apple had started on the iPad first. At some point in time, when they realized the iPhone makes sense to be done first, they actually shelved the iPad project. They moved to the iPhone. Delivered it. And then moved back to iPad.

The story that comes to my mind is the famous quadrant that Jobs drew when he first came back to Apple. The four quadrants were laptop for consumers, laptop for business users, desktop for consumers, desktop for business users. Thats it. They focussed on one product in each quadrant. They trashed every other variant that was introduced during Sculley’s time.

Wisdom without compassion is ruthlessness, compassion without wisdom is folly — Fred Kofman

This is so deep that it took me a few seconds to digest this. But once you understand it, it is so true.

Read the original post from Jeff here.