Power of boring execution

How did Obama win so easily in what was predicted to be a close election? Some fascinating lessons for any business

#1. Overnight success built over 8 years

Obama’s victory is a lot to do with the power of execution than with vision and great speeches like last time. Democrats out organised and out reached their supporters. In a way their over night success was 8 years in the making. The databases, the demographic analytics and on the field volunteers.

#2. Customer segmentation and targetting

If the strategy was to focus on the poor / middle class voters and certain segments of likely voters based on race – everything about the first term presidency now looks like targeting that segment. In the end no one can be all things to all people (not with standing the 47% remarks)

#3. Pace yourself

There are good days and bad days. But it’s a fascinating lesson in pacing yourself (keep in mind Obama had a day job all thru the campaign)

#4. Strike good partnerships

Who can question the credibility and connect Bill Clinton brought to the campaign?

No big speeches or tag lines this time. Boring boring. The power of boring execution is here to see !!

Learning from Obama – Part II

Back in 2008 I wrote a post about learnings from Obama’s election for startups … I am now compelled to write the second part of that observing what appears to be dissapointing presidency of Barack Obama.

Here are some lessons for startups …

  1. Long term vision, scalability are all great but with out short term tactics there is no long term existence … why plan a new colour scheme when your house is on fire … put the fire out first
  2. Get quick wins to rally the team… instead of showing short term success , Obama started mega changes like Health Care and Energy that may take a decade to show any impact … even Sachin gets his centuries on the back of singles and not just 4s and 6s (home runs for Americana) … what about jobs today?
  3. At times one needs to know it’s time to stop selling and marketing … and focus inwards to build the product / service right. Execution matters … even more than ideas. Obama gets a C for execution, who cares if his ideas win Nobel prizes?
  4. What you say NO to matters more than what you say YES to … many times. Looking back … every time Obama didn’t say NO diluted his power and eroded his credibility … the latest spineless capitulation on Bush tax cuts will further alienate every one from all camps …. for a startup not saying NO will reduce focus at every step and eventually result in lack of excellence

American presidency is only of academic interest to me … but it’s sad to see such a dissapointing gap between expectation and reality for a leader who captured world’s imagination. One hopes the second half of this term will see an improvement in the same.

This surely teaches ideas, marketing, long term vision etc. are all great … but make no sense unless they matched with execution in the short term on the ground.


Views expressed are solely personal opinions of the author; and do not represent the views organizations/institutions he is associated in any form. The author has no responsibility for actions taken based on ideas expressed here.

(Sridhar Turaga’s Blog: An Indian Entrepreuner)

Great speech … so what?

Great speech by US President Obama receiving the nobel prize. Something like … “I believe in peace, but need to wage war when it is just” “I closed Guantanamo to uphold values” “Reducing n-arms is center piece of my foreign policy” “US will lead the way for climate change”

YAWN. YAWN !!

Except for the part when he said “compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize,” his accomplishments “are slight” and suggested that he had been chosen not so much for what he had done but for what he is expected to do. … rest was an attempt to fit into shoes he hasn’t grown up yet to wear.

Also, as usual it’s a speech that makes those who oppose as well as those who support him nod in agreement … hey I said that !!

“Talk is cheap” as the Americans say. So why doesn’t he just do it …

What do you think? Does Obama deserve the Nobel prize? Vote here


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Views expressed are solely personal opinions of the author; and do not represent the views of the organizations/institutions he is associated in any form. The author has no responsibility for actions taken based on ideas expressed here.

(Sridhar Turaga’s Blog: An Indian Entrepreneur)

Yes … No … Mu

In his 1974 novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig translated mu as “no thing”, saying that it meant “unask the question”. Having grown up in India and being raised a  Hindu … the shades of GREY are part of my thinking. There are no simple YES-NO answers to complex questions. Some times you can say “I don’t know enough” or “unask the question” or “It can’t be answered YES or NO”. No problem with that. There is a third state for a lot of things in life … Mu.

When I lived and worked in US a few years ago … it always surprised me to learn that Americans managed to simplify every issue into two simple positions. You are RED or BLUE. You are Pro-Life or Pro-Abortion. You are with us or against us.

In fact the “cross cultural training” boot camp I went to had a session teaching us how to answer questions as YES or NO.  I never got it … never believed life exists in this over simplified bi-polar paradigm.

In fact, a lot of social and political issues America and American society faces can be traced back to dividing the issue and peoples into simple YES-NO camps. Bush was the most evolved and filtered species of that YES-NO mutation.

All that changed with Barack Obama. I just listed to his speech addressing Muslim people around the world … and he excels at getting his hands around intractable issues … simply because he knows how to not just say YES-or-NO … but also say YES-and-NO, Not-Yes and NOT-NO … and of course my favourite state of them all … Mu

Do I support Obama? Ofcourse Mu.

My predictions for 2009 …

Every TV channel now has people predicting the future, so I can’t resist doing that myself !

Here are 5 things that I predict will happen in 2009.

#1. America will shut itself from inside – President Obama will re-institute an inward looking and closed to world politics American foreign policy … like it was before the two great wars. Unless they are needled and dragged into war with another Perl Harbor or 9/11 … one can expect US to go to the other extreme of their current global police role … to disconnecting with international politics and getting into a shell. This will have implications to arms manufacturers, Pakistan, Iraq, N.Korea, Russia etc. and open up a spot for Russia, China, India etc. to have a voice in international politics.

#2. Document Syncronisation to leverage online collaboration – Document syncronisation just like with email with gain acceptance. With documents being available online-and-offline, collaborating and anytime download will be the primary thrust of online document management apps – rather than creation and editing. Online document editing and creating will always be a Plan B. It’s like with Outlook/Exchange email. Google will either implement this for Star Office with Google Docs or Google Sites. Microsoft and Adobe have made a start and will push it too. As ever, break thru will be from a new startup we don’t know about.

#3.  Indian businesses to focus on customers and process – Indian businesses will make a real shift in mindsets due to recessionary times … to focus on current customer management and process management in it’s true spirit … as a way of life. The “We-are-like-this-only” style and seat of your pants expansion plans as “build-it-they-will-come” will give way to a more deliberate and thoughtful style of operations management. Thinking we will turn Japanese is expecting too much … but hoping for isn’t.

#4. Social Networking as a feature – Instead of just being a space of it’s own, Social Networking will become a feature of every major online consumer service/provider. Just like chat, blogs, video, photo upload and tags … started as independent and unique business of it’s own … and are now common place in every news site and consumer service fully integrated as a feature … the same will happen with Social Networking. Once upon a time a lot of people put up their web pages on Geocities … to finally shift to their own sites … having a presence in Facebook or LinkedIn or Orkut is similar in many ways to having pages in Geocities. If you think about it … Social Networking is basically collaborating as a community, having links to friends in a organised manner … every service can benefit from offering that to their users.

#5. Bypass the carrier – Once the operating system and the hand set get de-coupled for mobile phones … (Android is one of those things that signals the beginning of that process) … the next thing will be ways to bypass the carrier for services like SMS and short codes. De-coupling of Software, Harware and the Netware happened with computers … will happen for Mobiles as well. This process will begin in 2009.

Let me know what you think. What would you predict for 2009?

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Views expressed are solely personal opinions of the author; and do not represent the views organizations/institutions he is associated in any form. The author has no responsibility for actions taken based on ideas expressed here.

(Sridhar Turaga’s Blog: An Indian Entrepreneur)