Evaluating Ideas

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Our brain keeps working all day. Even when we are sleeping. Thoughts waft in and out of our consciousness. There is always an inner voice babbling something about everything. There is a constant nagging in our minds, whether we choose to act on it or not is a different discussion. There are a thousand ideas that we get throughout the day- ideas that are silly, stupid, crazy, impossible, ambitious and a host of other varieties. All these ideas may be great as such. But in reality, not all can grow into something more than just an idea. There are other external and internal factors that influence and the situations that one is in lets only certain ideas to grow and thrive.

Spending a great deal of energy on an idea that is bound to fail due to the various conditions surrounding it is not an intelligent thing to do. True that “Nothing is Impossible”, but practically somethings are impossible. For example, for all the climate change that’s going on, you still cannot make it snow naturally in South India. As of now, that’s impossible. So, if your idea is to ice ski in Chennai, it’s not going to work. You might instead want to settle for ice skating in Chennai on an artificial ice rink, or get ready to go to a place where you can ice ski. In totality, you should be ready to alter your idea to fit in with other worldly and practical factors, simultaneously making sure that you don’t change the basic idea itself.

Well, so the first step to achieving great actions out of great ideas is to evaluate the plethora of ideas that your brain brings up all through the day, and pick the right ones that can become great. To simply put it, you have to evaluate your ideas.

For example, in the book “The Value Strategy” by G. Jagannathan, there is a chapter titled “Evaluation Phase: Weighing the Options”. This chapter basically talks about how ideas that have been taken from all the sources in a business meeting have to evaluated later for the “best alternative idea that will equally satisfy the basic function, at an overall reduced cost”. So, here we can see that the practical factor that would be key to the selection of the final idea is based on this. Some of the factors as identified in the book for the business that they discussed are safety, durability, reliability, cost, availability, acceptability by the user, etc.

Generally ideas can be evaluated by sorting out priorities. One should ask questions to oneself before they start implementing or working on an idea. Is the subject of the idea in itself most important to them? Or is it the end result that the idea can achieve more important? If the end result is more important, then is there any other idea that they have in mind that can lead to the result with lesser investment and better productivity?

What must be invested to carry out the idea? Is the subject of investment available (eg. money, time, land, etc.)? How sure does the result look? Is it a stand-alone idea or inter-dependent one?

The nature and type of questions will be different for different ideas. In fact, not all questions can be answered at the beginning. But these questions must be revisited every now and then to stay on track. As a final note, humans are passionate creatures with a powerful brain and our actions are driven by intuitions. So, on the pursuit of answering such questions and methodically sculpting ideas, one should not ignore the gut feeling that prompts us to do something even when the odds are against it. The evaluation phase is just to be statistically and cognitively informed. A balance is what we require for success.


The India Way

Recently, I came across a fascinating new book titled, The India Way : How India’s Top Business Leaders Are Revolutionizing Management.  This book is written by four Professory from The Wharton School, Peter Cappelli, Harbir Singh, Jitendra Singh, and  Michael Useem.

  Peter Cappelli is the George W. Taylor Professor of Management and director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School.  •He is the editor of Academy of Management Perspectives, and the author of The New Deal at Work: Managing the Market-Driven Workforce and Talent on Demand: Managing Talent in an Age of Uncertainty.

  Harbir Singh is the William and Phyllis Mack Professor of Management and co-director of the Mack Center for Technological Innovation at the Wharton School.  •He is widely published in the areas of strategy, governance, acquisitions, joint ventures, and restructuring and is the coeditor of Innovations in International and Cross-Cultural Management.

  Jitendra Singh is the Saul P. Steinberg Professor of Management at the Wharton School.  •He has coauthored several books, including Emerging Multinationals in Emerging Markets, and he has served on the boards of several companies, including Infosys Technologies and Emcure Pharmaceuticals in India

  Michael Useem is the William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management and director of the Center for Leadership and Change Management at the Wharton School.   •He is the author of several books on leadership, including The Inner Circle , Investor Capitalism and The Leadership Moment.

All four of them are th top of their careers presently.  It was out of sheer academic interest and personal curiousity that they started research on India.  Over a four year period theysurveyed over a hundred publicly listed companies and personally interviewed over a hundred Chairmen and CEOs of some of India’s best companies.  In all, the book represents twelve manyears of work!

I hd a opportunity to attend a talk by Prof Jitendra Singh at The Great Lakes Instt of Management here in Chennai, rather at their impressive new campus a little beyond Mahabalipuram.  It was very interesting and I found his insites fascinating.

According to the authors there are four pillars of the India Way :

  •Holistic Engagement with Employees

•Improvisation & Adaptability

•Creative Value Propositions

•Broad Mission & Purpose

I came across a blog byProf  Michael Useem today and I encourage you to read it   http://blogs.wsj.com/india-chief-mentor/2010/06/24/building-business-the-india-way/

In this blog he describes four common threads they found throughout their research –

First, Indian executives see their most important goal as serving a social mission, not maximizing shareholder value, as in the U.S.

Second, Indian executives measure and manage almost every aspect of human resource practices and effectiveness, significantly more so than in the U.S. firms.

Third, Indian executives banged away at hard problems with a trial-and-error approach that is deeply rooted in a culture of scarcity and constraints. 

And fourth, Indian companies are less interested in acquiring competencies through mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, or other externally oriented approaches compared to American firms.

With the India way of operating, many Indian firms have achieved rapid growth for most of the decade.  If Indian firms have grown faster than others, the reason can be found in the India Way of managing.

I encourage you to read it.  If you are working for a foreign company, I reommend you buy a few copies and send it to your head office.

You know where ypu can get a copy – kkbooks.com of course.



Theory of Constraints helps face Economic Slowdown

Today’s DNA, Bombay carries a story by Tanvi Shukla  (s_tanvi@dnaindia.net)

based on an ineraction with my good friend Kiran Kothekar.  http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1204241&pageid=0

This is great stuff.  I encourage you to read it.  What Kiran has done is to study Eli Goldratt’s teachings in great depth.  In this he has had a wonderful opportunity to study at the Master’s feet.  He has then deployed that knowledge to Businessesses across the spectrum, learnt from that field experience and developed his knowledge further and sharpened his skills.


What he has done at Fleetguard is unique and attempted  for the firs time in India.  This knowledge is highly applicable and relevant to several businesses, specially for those who make for stock and sale and specifically to the Indian Book industry.   I hope the book trade fraternity will sit up and take note of it.


For further knowledge, I recommend Eli Goldratt’s books which can be found at: