Tag Archives: Business

Tapari Meetings

Today morning I was checking my Facebook account and came across Harvard Business Review article over “How to Run a Meeting” (https://hbr.org/1976/03/how-to-run-a-meeting). I was overwhelmed by sheer length of the article. I must admit, I hate those long, unfruitful and agenda-less meetings. I think everybody does, isn’t it?

I started wondering, why HBR need to write such a long article on such a simple thing that we assume that everybody knows. It is just matter of checking all peoples’ calendar and sending them meeting invite and put the subject, venue etc. and done. In meeting as well, its straight forward, one person usually be the host, put forth the agenda and we discuss and at the end of the meeting, we share minutes of the meeting and action points. What is such a difficult thing in taking meetings?

The problem is not in taking meetings, it’s all about how we looked at this tool of communication and how effectively it’s been used in corporate world. If you really look again in HBR article, it’s been written in year 1976 and still the advice applies and still HBR fellows thought it is relevant in today’s world. It also means, not much things has been changed since last 40 years. We all, still curse ill-executed meetings. Traditionally executed meetings are always failures and count towards loss of productivity. Can we do something differently? Can we change, how we conduct meetings?

My views had been bit different on how to conduct the meeting thing. I am a big believer of 37 Signal’s philosophy of “Meetings are toxic” but also not able to avoid meetings completely. From last 5-6 years, I have been trying something different for meetings with my teams. After practicing with various teams and with different size companies in India, I think, it has made many of our meetings more productive and kept teams engaged. Most important is, we saved a lot of time which we might have wasted in conducting meetings in traditional sense.

My method is simple. I call it “Tapari meetings”. Together all team-members go for tea/coffee outside the office on nearby Tapari (tea-stall on the streets or around the street corners in India). If you don’t want to go outside office for some reason, then go to office pantry or gather around coffee machine and without any formal settings, start to discuss the topics everyone wanted to discuss. The topics can vary from what we need to do today to anything that is relevant to project/work. If team is like still relevantly new to each other, then you can start with common un-official topics like Sports, bikes, cars or any tourist places or anything. The important point is, team as proceed further with this daily routine, develops their own rules. You do not have to worry about setting rules in stones. My experience is developer and test engineers even nailed difficult bugs just by discussing them in such informal meetings and even executives has taken big decisions this way.

Advantages of such “Tapari Meetings”:

  1. keeps your meetings cheerful and awake. Since people walk to the Tapari (Indian tea-stall on the streets or around the street corners) or coffee machines.
  2. Meeting will run only for the time, people are having their tea/coffee and interested in the discussion.
  3. If you don’t have any set agenda, you don’t waste other people’s time.At least they can have tea-coffee and come back to their place.
  4. Soft issues can also be resolved since there can be “one more cutting de na bhaiyya” (One more tea, please) to sort out the issues.
  5. People only speak to the point and thinking on the feet since they don’t have ppts and any kind of papers.
  6. Since its only meeting where you have to remember things afterword, my observations are, people tend to conclude on action points and not interested in receiving minutes of meetings afterwards.

I understand that there will be few people who will always question about such drastic changes like having meeting outside and without any dashboard, ppts or even paper but I request you to try this method for few weeks and you will see the results.

Failure of our (may be specific to India only) traditional office system is highlighted when we think work only happens when people are at desk. Surprisingly, even president of USA and Prime Minister of India can work out their deals while having tea and walk. Do you think, your work is more important and more complex than theirs?

Let me know your thoughts.

Joel On Office Space

OMG! I just have unheard that any CEO can care that much about his people, at least in India in SMB segment. It is very rare example that Joel is setting himself .Being a great guy, he knows what best programmers want and how to keep them forever.

I wish many of Indian company CEO’s should read how he had built his office here and here. I am stunned about this man’s business model.Look what he says about his business model..

“That’s our business model. Nice offices, smart programmers, great products, profit.”
What a great business model, straight and simple!

One of the great things about Joel is he knows what people want … look at the way he describes the picture of a construction client and their architects…

“Like many architects who do a lot of commercial work, they were thrilled to finally have a client ask for something other than cheap. These poor architects get out of grad school, imagining all the creative, artistic spaces they will design, and they get their first clients, and they sit down for a meeting, and they start talking about negative space and permeability and modernism, and the clients cut them off and say, “Actually, we want cheap.”

And the architects say, “How about if I design something nice and cheap?”

And the clients say, “No. Not nice. Not nice and cheap. Just cheap.” “

Is it true in software industry too? I really love to find and work with the exceptional business people who  have Joel’s attitude as a client. Off course, people will try to meet the ends of the earth for such a client and in true sense this is Win-Win relationship and there emerges the great product in many respects profit, people and market reputation.

There is one quote, I remember, in Craig Larman’s book [Applying UML & patterns] on UML patterns that says “Fast, Cheap, good choose any two.”

Customer comes first but customer is not a king!!

Certainly in this fierce competitive world organization has to put its customers first. They need to understand their customer base and his/her likes and dislikes. It is very hard to create a differentiation and distinction in short memory and over communicated world.

I believe business should be done on mutual benefits. It’s not only one sided process. Customer should be always put at first but he/she should not detect each and every thing that has been their inside business. Otherwise, this exercise will lead to greater harm to the provider as well as provide a very superficial or no value at all to customer.

In our IT business, many times as employee the impression had created that you need to do crappy things as well if your customer says to do so and you should not hold any value of your own. In this situation, it is difficult to deal with the customers and most of the times employees of provider organization suffer. The client should also have to its provider organization and people working there as well as their culture and past. The client must have to understand that it is very beneficial for him as well if they want to have a greater values provided to them as service from provider organization. It will create a win-win situation for all.

Business should always establish harmony and satisfaction in involved parties and not the mistrust or misunderstandings and stress. The by-product of good business always provides good return and even sometimes surprising results which both parties often not expected from the people involved in the entire business life cycle.