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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

July - 2011 - issue > Management

Disconnect: The Root of All Execution Evils

Raj Karamchedu
Friday, July 1, 2011
Raj Karamchedu
These days are a mixed bag for me. Of late I have been considering "doing something bigger and better," in my life, perhaps seriously thought about "going back to India and start a company," but have not really done anything about it. And then the other day when I saw this quotation in a friend's email signature I felt self-conscious and told him it was like a poke in the eye. The quotation, by Johann Kaspar Lavater, was this: "Who in the same given time can produce more than others has vigor; who can produce more and better, has talents; who can produce what none else can, has genius."

I am going to admit here in this column something that I did not say so openly before; I am actually not all that confident that I can find the "right set of people" to work with if I go back to India. By "right set of people," I mean those with whom I can be comfortable working in a team, those who exude professionalism, those who possess a strong ethic and foster an inspiring ease in others, those who do not make others feel insufficient for one reason or the other and most important, those who execute.

By admitting to this lack of confidence, I know that I am also admitting to a preconceived judgment on the quality of the business and management professionals in India. I ask myself, "How can a technology culture that has not successfully developed and marketed a tech product in the same class as other world-class products can possess the kind of maturity in management?" All this may be true or not, but actually I think the real problem I am facing can be summed up like this: I do not relate to the Indian management scene, hence I am afraid of the risks involved and I come up with these judgments. But as soon as I say these words, my twenty years of life centered in the high-technology profession - nearly all of it in the silicon valley - replays before me in a flash and I remember how naive I was in matters of management when I was a design engineer. I too did not relate to matters of marketing and management back then. But over time, from an emotion-driven nosedive into quitting my engineer job to “do a startup,” to a wonderful failure of it and then to a series of passionate forays into product management careers, I am struck by how pervasive this phenomenon of not-being-able-to-relate is among the high-technology professionals.

I think something very similar to this not-being-able-to-relate phenomenon lies at the root of all professional management and business execution problems.

Having made the discovery of such pervasiveness, a few years ago, when I was convinced I made a successful shift from engineering to marketing, I wrote up a whole chapter in my notes on how I myself came to overcome this phenomenon of not-being-able-to-relate. For the remainder of this column, I would like to share this experience of mine with the readers by taking one specific topic, the topic of differentiation.


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