Fun as a way of doing Business, and why the “Cricky says Thanks” Campaign?

As I (CricketRadius) launch the Cricky says Thanks to Dravid and Ganguly campaign on twitter today, I want to take you into a brief journey of how I came up with the idea and how I see fun as an integral part of life, whether it is doing business or watching a game of cricket, or anything else for that matter.

If you Obey all the Rules, You miss all the Fun
If there is one mantra I live my life by, it would be this. The focus is not on breaking rules, but on having fun. We learn by doing, and by failing we learn how not to fail the next time. But that failing had all the fun. Remember the childhood days when you fell off the bicycle, or while playing football, and how much fun it was. And with every fall, we became better at not falling. For me, doing something the way I want do it is the greatest thrill in the world.

Cricky The Fan

Cricky The Fan

Work = Fun = Play = Business
I have always been in the business of cricket. Irrespective of where I have worked, I have always followed every single cricket match played by India in the last 20 years. I have devoted hours every day reading articles, watching videos and discussing about cricket with my friends and colleagues. The point I am making is what you ‘care‘ about is your business anyway, in whichever form it is. And throwing yourself into a job you love and enjoy is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

I am my own Customer
The one thing that wakes me up in the morning these days is the idea of giving a great experience to my customer. I have myself followed cricket by way of keeping a track of records in notebooks and cutting pictures from newspapers to form huge albums of collages. Later on I have maintained excel sheets containing all kinds of cricket related data and kept them updated regularly. What I am trying to do with CricketRadius is to deliver a product for myself and people like me. I have still not figured out what the end product would be, but I am sure I know it somewhere deep inside and just have to bring it out in the right form.

Get Started. Make Impact. Small is not Bad
If I have an idea that can save the planet, I will act on it. But if I have a small idea which will just make watching cricket more fun, I will work on that too. For me, the real joy is of ‘creating‘ something new, not in how big or ┬ásmall, and the journey in itself rather than the destination. So the point is – Just make a difference where you can. Some solutions can be scaled up, some can’t, but I like to realize that after taking action, rather than in classrooms and meetings.

Relive 5 historic matches of Ganguly and Dravid on Twitter from 23-27 May

Relive 5 historic matches of Ganguly and Dravid on Twitter from 23-27 May

How the campaign came about?
It is not a co-incidence that the campaign is about expressing gratitude to Dravid and Ganguly for their contribution to Indian Cricket. I have spent my childhood watching their entire careers and I believe these two players have had the biggest impact on Indian Cricket in the last 20 years, along with Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar. And in todays inter-connected world, the question I am asking with this campaign is – “What if twitter had been there on these 5 historic matches which I am re-creating and reliving?” Every fan has the option to relive those moments of pure joy by following the commentary, reading articles and watching videos about the same online for 5 days starting today.

And what better way to show that we acknowledge Dravid’s and Ganguly’s contribution to Indian Cricket than getting all fans together in the form of a huge collage made out of our Twitter profile pictures – The Twit-Bat. So follow the matches live on our twitter account, and invite other fans to take part in the campaign all details of which can be found here.

Building the Right Product versus Building the Product Right

In my 7 years in the industry, I have seen that the relationship between the product and engineering teams can make or break the product, and the whole business around it. Product management is about building the ‘right‘ product while Engineering is all about building the product ‘right‘. However, in a business both are equally important and myopic views about any one of them will end up hurting the business in the long term. This hold more true for startups and internet based companies than for established and growth companies where the ‘right‘ product is already identified.

Part of the Same Team

Product management and Engineering need to work together as they are part of the same team, while having very different roles. It is critical that the two see themselves as peers, and on the same side of the table. In most companies these two teams sit far away from each other, limiting interaction, which is critical especially in the beginning stages of any product. It is important to understand that out of PM and Engineering, none is subordinate to another, and steps must be taken to introduce a cohesive working environment between the two to enable better understanding and co-operation.

Make Engineers Understand the Customer

Most of the times engineers are unaware of why they are building what they are building. Their focus is on getting the requirement spec from product management, and then working on implementing that. But without an intricate knowledge of why they are building that product, and for whom, they can never get a complete understanding of their place in the whole company and fully contribute to it. In my view, making each and every developer in the engineering team aware of why they are doing what they are doing is critical to discovering problems in time and preventing frustration and despair later on.

Is this the story in your company?

Is this the story in your company?

Encourage Engineers to Come Up with Ideas

Your engineers are the ones who are the closest to the product, and they know the technology best. They have the best idea of what can be done and what not, and the relative complexities of implementing any two different solutions. Involving them in idea generation and encouraging them to come up with ideas can prove vital in reducing the PM-Engineering mail clutter to come up with better solutions sooner. At the same time, it also gives engineering a sense of ownership about what they are going to implement.

Product Manager should focus on Minimal Product, then regular Increments

It is often considered fancy to come up with a product plan which will take 2-3 months for engineering to build. The product team think they have done a great job detailing every feature and detail in the spec, while the engineering team devotes their best resources to doing it right. But after the product ships (or sometimes even before), the product team (together with sales and marketing) gets valuable feedback from the customer and wants to drop some features, change a few, and add a couple of new ones. This becomes the Product Spec v2. All the while engineering has no idea why their efforts of the last 3 months have gone down the drain, which leads to frustration and reduced productivity. And the cycle continues.

Another way to approach this situation could be to come up with a minimal set of features to build in the first version of the product. It is critical that both PM and Engineering sit together and decide this based on each other’s inputs. If the two work cohesively together on a minimal product, and then add small increments as customer inputs start coming in, the kind of productivity that can be generated could be awesome for both teams, and for the company as a whole.