Outcome based projects – a reality check


I firmly believe the future of consulting is all about outcomes based work. In principle, this is easy to understand and there are several examples of projects where this has been successful. A welcome change in these contracts is that the actual paperwork is significantly lighter than the paper monsters we have all dealt with in the past.

In its most “unsexy” extreme – think of a maintenance contract. Customer wants a certain number of trouble tickets every year for a certain amount of money from an outsourcer. Whether the vendor solves it by automation, by offshoring or by whatever means should not matter to the customer as long as the SLA is met . Simple as it gets on paper – but it is not simple in practice.

The CIO who signed the contract gets it. But the order entry clerk whose printer stops working can no longer walk over to end of the hall and find Joe, the printer guy, to fix it. He needs to raise a ticket and wait for 4 hours to get it fixed. Result “our vendor sucks”, low NPS scores , CIO getting all kinds of hate mail and so on. Experts on twitter will say “Big Outsourcer screws over customer with poor service”.

Lets also look at the “sexy” extreme – think of a business KPI like inventory turns as the metric that defines the outcome. A baseline is made today and vendor pays a penalty when turns decrease, and vendor gets a share of the gain when turns increase. Sounds like a fair deal on paper. What can go wrong when both parties share risk and return ?

End of the year customer and vendor are sitting together to compute turns and voila – turns increased by 20% and according to contract the customer needs to pay a lot of money now to the vendor.

Scenario 1 – was all 20% of the goodness due to the Vendor’s work ? What was the contribution of the new store manager Jane who introduced more discipline in the warehouse? .

Scenario 2 – ok ok, so it was all due to the vendor’s good work. But there were so many returns . So the customer did not really get the business benefits. What now ?

Lets also flip this situation and say turns decreased by 30%. Customer wants a big fat check as penalty.

Scenario 1 – well you fired all the experienced managers and hired cheaper inexperienced folks. What did you expect? But for the vendor, turns would have been 70% lower instead of 30%.

Scenario 2 – This would have worked like a charm, except for the flood in India causing disruption. You never signed up for the extra location we begged you to sign for just a little more money.

You get the drift – this gets complex in a hurry on both extremes, and results in all kinds of unpleasantness. What was done to move away from rewarding effort and complexity to rewarding outcomes and simplicity just did not pan out.

Is there a way out ? Of course there is a way out. That needs each side to have some trust in each other to begin with . It also needs these contracts to be in place for a long period of time to make sure that both sides get a fair shake. Contracts need to stop being about “average price per hour” to benchmarks that measure outcomes across the industry. And this needs a lot of “change management” initiative to set and reinforce the right expectations. The order entry clerk needs to know that his performance metrics should be adjusted to reflect the fact that a broken printer takes four hours to fix now – he should not be punished for a decision he did not take.

I can say first hand that this works quite well when you find the right sponsors on both sides of the table. But it is anything but the “walk in the park” that it looks like from the outside.

 

 

Customer 360 in the Cognitive World 


There isn’t a company out there that doesn’t want to see a full view of customers across all channels . I have done large and small implementations of those in a variety of technologies . Several ISVs – Hadoop companies , NoSQL companies and traditional data warehousing companies – have all built big chunks of their businesses on the idea of Customer 360 . 

For structured data and with sources that don’t change a lot , doing a 360 view in a traditional data warehouse is adequate and in fact has significant performance and maintenance advantages . As data becomes more and more multi-structured and prone to frequent change , a NoSQL database starts to become a great choice . When large datasets come into play in these situations – especially on the multi structured side , Hadoop has advantages . 

There are trade offs too – everything that works with standard tooling (BI, administration , ETL) etc don’t work in NoSQL and Hadoop the same way as it does in relational systems . The licensing models have a big impact on decisions too . And while interoperability is much better today – it is not yet at a level that relational, NoSQL and Hadoop all work together happily . I am sure it will get there in some time – but not today or tomorrow .

That is just the back end story – the data management side – where decisions are made on the 3V model . The 3V model is splendid , but it is not sufficient once we look beyond the data management side towards the insights side of the equation . There I think of two other Vs – Veracity and Value of the data . 

The universal truth about data – especially big data – is that it is usually not clean . For insights to come out of that data – we need more tools to cleanse and govern . And then for getting value we need to rely on BI tools . If you think the job of a data scientist is sexy – you haven’t been in their shoes . Vast majority of real data scientists spend most of their time cleansing and rearranging data before they can model scenarios effectively . It’s grunt work and mostly not fun . There are great tools which can do cleansing and help with some governance – but it’s an uphill battle 

On the value side – there are many different types of BI tools depending on what you want to do with the data . For the most part , these tools need a human user to define what needs to be reported on . Various things like massively parallel processing across multiple cores , cheaper memory , more push down of functionality to databases all have helped tools become more efficient . A whole category of visualization vendors have made BI pretty exciting too . 

So between all the data management and BI options – we can already have a pretty good view of customer 360 today . So what is next ? 

Enter Cognitive computing !

  

Some of the existing visualization products support the idea of exploring elementary correlations of a given data set , and that is great. The idea is to have a human user then look at them , try different combinations and see what makes sense . Cognitive goes a few steps further and helps formulate questions that the average users hasn’t yet thought of asking . It can find and surface a lot more hidden relationships across data from all channels . For example – by analyzing news and social media , a customer can be flagged as a credit risk even though inhouse CRM and ERP data show them as having good credit . 

What about making sense of voice and pictures and video to enable better customer service ? What if a robot can converse with you and give you all the answers you need based on its cognitive abilities ? I am not kidding – take a look at this video of a cognitive robot dancing when it is asked to. 

Even if we discount robotics (which we really shouldn’t discount )  , Figuring out a customer’s intent via voice and facial recognition and responding based on data analysis takes customer care to a whole different level . Imagine calling your favorite cell provider with a question “when is my contract ending” and software figuring out from your tone and historical data that you have abysmal coverage in your office and hence you are a customer who will potentially churn quickly. It can also figure out that in your area there are several other customers who have the same issue . The system can then alert the field services team to fix coverage issues , as well as offer you an incentive to stay loyal to your provider . Or the system can decide that you need to talk to a human agent and transfer your call with all this intelligence to the best service rep to take care of you . That is the power of cognitive customer care. 
Responding by voice and touch is great , but it is becoming a given in modern UX. What Cognitive adds to make the UX even better is asking questions about the rationale behind the system’s decisions . You can also ask the system what confidence it has on its decision and explain to you other possible solutions . Imagine engaging in a customer chat about your phone heating up. A cognitive system can help you trouble shoot by yourself . The same system can help a service engineer trouble shoot the network and offer different solutions and the odds for each . The picture below is such a cognitive trouble shooting  and debugging app !

  
Another interesting aspect is helping trade off decisions for a customer when there are several options to choose from – like choosing a phone , the right rate plan and maintenance options .

The one last aspect to consider is about reuse of existing customer information systems . There is good news there too – Watson can query those at run time to make decisions . And if there is an API to commit a transaction in a system , Watson can trigger it too (like say update your billing plan) . Not all data needs to be physically persisted in Watson for it to work .

It’s an exciting new world of possibilities that cognitive opened for us . Plenty of customer projects are already in progress too. Let’s just say I am in geek heaven ;)

Speed of Transformation


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“How fast should you transform your business?” . This is my favorite question to ask business leaders these days . I am yet to run into even one leader who told me that they have time on their side – every one wants to transformright now, which is absolutely great to hear. This is also totally in line with what my analyst friends have typically opined too over the past couple of years. And yet – there are very few “all in” transformation initiatives in the world of large enterprises. Many leaders choose incremental transformation even though theyreally want to take a more aggressive approach.

It’s catch 22 on many dimensions for leaders of large companies to jump in with both feet.

Planning can be scary: Change is hard even on good days. It is much harder if you do it in an unplanned way. Waiting for every i to be dotted and every t to be crossed via detailed planning is not helpful either – you will risk missing the market opportunity.

Rules for startups don’t apply to you :  You want to be the next Uber . But your investors have a different yardstick to measure you, even if they too want you to be Uber. A large public company taking risks get punished in the market by institutional investors for putting profits at risk . The same institutions will yell at startup CEOs for worrying about profits instead of growth. Larger companies with diversified portfolios can take on a lot of risk if markets favored the approach -but that is not how it plays out for the most part. So leaders shift to the safe approach – contain costs as way to manage profit, as oppose to invest for future growth. There are notable exceptions like Amazon etc – but they are exceptions.

Ring fencing only goes so far :  A popular large enterprise strategy is to ring fence an innovation team to help them incubate and grow a new business without the organizational antibodies killing it in the bud. The typical result is that a bunch of amazing “proof of concept” projects will come out in fairly short time and show tremendous promise in pilot implementations. Yet – most of them don’t scale sufficiently into a big business. This happens for many reasons. For example – scaling needs a different mindset from “proof of concept”. It is a lot of boring grunt work that the “innovation gang” feels is beneath them. They would rather do the next cool proof of concept. The larger organization feels no ownership of the new idea that got thrown over the wall to them, and finds faults with it from the get go and kills it at the first opportunity. Again , there are a few exceptions – like say IBM Watson, but again – they are exceptions.

So how fast can you transform your business ?

Hard to answer, but I think empirically we can say that it is a function of how fast you can transform yourself as a leader.

Grey is the new black : Perhaps Grey was always the black, just that we didn’t give it the due credit :) . You need an extreme ability to let go of the world of black and white and work in varying shades of grey. It is not easy and does not come naturally to many of us . Early leadership roles in most companies are all about tweaking prescriptive policies already in place, with very little encouragement for radical change.

Communication is the biggest weapon  : Transformation typically fails by default – you need to nurture it on a full time basis to let it thrive. The main reason it fails is because you don’t talk about it enough. Although they are exceptions, successful companies who could convince investors to go along have all had leaders who are excellent communicators. At least in theory , Investors like predictability – if you feed more information to them to make their models work, they tend to like you. External communication is not really the big deal in my opinion – many transformation initiatives fail mostly because of an abject failure in keeping the larger organization informed. I know IT organizations who thought they have successfully shifted to agile getting upset when business does not give them due credit for their transformation. In almost every case – it was a failure to keep the business informed along the way on what is changing and what is the big deal. Hanging banners with clever slogans in office does not substitute honest person to person communication

Best persons for the job : Nothing shows the level of commitment to transformation like the people you put on the initiative. This is also where most businesses fail. If your most proven folks get to run established businesses instead of your transformation initiative, then the message you are sending the larger organization is that 1: you are not all in, and there is no need for them to be all in either and 2: you don’t have confidence in your leadership bench to backfill the current top leaders. This particular aspect is close to home for me – a big reason for my coming back to IBM after a gap of few years was the type of people investments that IBM CEO was making on Watson, Analytics and other new business units. The leaders – from General Managers, to their staff, and to people working for them – were all accomplished folks who had successfully run huge businesses before. That gave me tremendous confidence that IBM is serious about its transformation and that it is the right place for me.

Saying Bye To 2015, The Year Of Yin And Yang


Christmas is over, and as I woke up today I started thinking about the year that passed me by. It certainly was not the most pleasant year amongst the forty that I have lived on this planet – I lost some very dear friends and relatives throughout the year. On January 3rd, my mentor John Leffler passed away.  The tribute I posted became my most widely read post ever on this blog – and that is painful in its own way.

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In October I lost my dear father in law , and my uncle lost his long fight to cancer in December. I could not bring myself to write about them in this blog , so I left shorter notes on Facebook.

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Sandwiched between the tragedies were some pleasant memories too. I managed to spend more time with my wife and daughter this year (mostly thanks to the break between MongoDB and IBM jobs) and that was priceless. I still can’t believe Shreya is nearly eleven now.

Shreya and me

I flew a lot less than most years – to the extent that I won’t have enough trips to make Executive Platinum on American Airways next February. I am still processing that realization that a year of no upgrades is staring me on my face. Maybe that is finally the push I need to lose some weight to fit into the middle seats.

Berlin

Shreya continues to be a straight A student, and the irony is that my wife and I have changed our perspectives on grades and stuff. Dhanya and I both grew up in typical Indian families where moms demanded excellence in school. We were both convinced that we won’t push Shreya for grades. Guess what – our DNA kicked in big time as she started in school, and we are now pretty much the same as our parents when it comes to grades. I just remembered my English teacher explaining Wordsworth’s “Child is the Father of man” in school :)

family

Dhanya was in engineering college when we got married in 2002. She had to travel multiple times to India from here to finish her classes and exams and get her degree. She did not want to pursue a career as an engineer, and went and got her certifications in Cisco networking etc. And this year, she went to realtor school and passed her state and national exams with flying colors on her first attempt itself. Between her dad’s sickness and his passing away, and raising our daughter ( and me and the three fur kids too), it was not easy on her – but she did it. I can’t be more proud of her.

Our youngest fur kid – Ollie – did quite well for himself too when he hit the dog show circuit with Aunt Rebecca training and handling him.

Ollie

Boss and Hobo stayed home keeping us company. Boss has been a wise man from the time he was a year old .

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Hobo who will turn seven on new years eve is still the puppy who never grew up mentally even though he is built like a tank.

I keep telling myself that I am still an ace handler and obedience trainer, but I no longer have what it takes to compete. I am out of shape, and I do everything to spoil my fur kids that I used to tell people not to do when I was personally active in the sport. The irrational side of my brain still tells me from time to time that I have it in me to enjoy holding the leash in the ring. We shall see – never say never :)

Ollie and me

It was an interesting year at work for me. I left MongoDB and went back to IBM .

Mongo team dinner

I am totally enjoying my second innings here – connecting with old friends (mostly when they call me to ask SAP related stuff – and then refuse to believe that I have left that world) and making new ones. Couple of weeks ago, I took on a new role as VP of digital transformation – which is the ultimate irony to close out the year given how much I have made fun of the term. I already know 2016 will be an amazing year – full of challenges and fun. As I closed out the year with thank you dinners and lunches with my clients ,my team, and Thelma (my awesome EA who keeps it all together for me)  the theme every time was the excitement about the things we have in the works for next year.

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Thanks to whatsapp, I also managed to reconnect with several friends this year from high school and college . It is amazing how we could pick up conversations from two decades ago without missing a beat.

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It was great meeting some of them in person too in different parts of the world. I am sure this theme will continue in years to come as well. Given the simpler times in which the roots of our friendship took shape, it is easy to discuss all things that are NOT politically correct and still be friends.

CN gang

2015 was also the first time when I could take an extended vacation for the first time since I left college. And it was fantastic spending that time with family and friends in India. Although I visit Trivandrum every year, this trip was special and more relaxed and it was fun to see  how my home town has changed from the time I grew up there. 

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Bye bye 2015 – I am ready for 2016 now !

 

Guess What, I am VP of Digital Transformation Now !


Yes – me – the guy who has never passed on an opportunity to make fun of the term “digital transformation” in public, private and hybrid platforms. On Friday, I got the job to lead our digital transformation service line for communications sector clients – companies in Energy, Utilities, Media, Entertainment, Telco, Sports etc.

You don’t need to securely collaborate via Cognitive analytics on your mobile, running on big data stored in the cloud to find that insight – I admit it, and I will be buzz word compliant. And I probably won’t stop making fun of the hype even if my business card reads “digital transformation”. I was a VP of Big Data till yesterday and I was and still am a critic of the hype around that term too – so why stop now :)

For people who are reading this for the first time and thinking WTH I am talking about – here is some of the background 

When my new boss told me on the phone that the name of the new practice will be “digital transformation”, the irony was delicious. My seven year old fur kid Hobo and I went for a walk around our neighborhood to think through this . Pretty sure I was grinning the whole time.

Hobo

 

First things first, many of you asked me what exactly is this digital transformation service line I am going to lead. IBM goes to market primarily by industry, not by technology. For example – we will provide solutions for churn management for a telco company. That solution typically will need many technology practices to come together – data management, strategy, analytics, Watson, Mobile, Design and so on. Those service lines all have their own “horizontal” solutions too – things like “Analytics as a service” for example. All we are doing now is to consolidate such service lines under one portfolio called “digital transformation” .

This will help us have better effectiveness (We will have sharper focus on industry specific solutions , and more comprehensive horizontal solutions.) as well as better efficiency (We don’t need to figure out per customer which service lines to bring together). This also helps us offer more flexible and outcomes based solutions to clients .

While my business card will read “digital transformation” , I don’t think I will switch to a “let me digitally transform you” conversation with any CXO from tomorrow. I will instead be continuing to have conversations like “Can we help you reduce your customer churn” or “Can we work together on cutting down on the time your customers need to spend to find answers” .

Change is hard for clients – even if we call it “transformation”. Our job is to make it easier and pleasant for them.

Technology – the “digital” part of the equation is the somewhat lesser challenge. We know really well how to bend technology to suit business needs , without breaking it. The focus on the tech part is one of keeping on optimizing since technology is rapidly evolving, and we don’t want clients to worry about it. I have a bet going on with an old friend on how many days it will take before I try my hand designing or coding something myself that my new team is tasked with:) . Fair warning – I am learning scala now and can’t wait to try it somewhere !

The harder challenge always will be putting a solution in the specific context of a client’s business. This is also what makes it interesting for our consulting team – going deep into a business and bringing in our experience with similar experiences from other clients, as well as from our research and other colleagues. The speed of execution is another thing that excites me – since I grew up in long multi year ERP projects. While a transformation program might run into many years in the new world too, there is a lot more “instant gratification” along the way. Fast iterations are the name of the game now – and it makes me have the same excitement today as I had when I wrote my first production quality program in the 90s.

Final point – there is an aspect of fun that I cannot just gloss over. This is a new business which we can help shape as we grow. Working on designing fan experience for a soccer team is plenty fun in itself – but integrating that with the supply chain for hot dogs takes the fun quotient to a whole new level. I cannot wait to get introduced to my new gang – and start learning from them.

It will be a fun ride – and if you (or some one you know) think you should be part of this gang, let me know. We are hiring at all levels. Send me your profile and contact information at vijay dot vijayasankar at us dot ibm dot com.

 

 

What purpose does sales forecasting serve any way ?


As part of my ongoing statistics education ( data science of you want to make it sound really important)  , I had the opportunity to analyze historic sales forecast vs actual sales of a company recently to find out optimization models . Since managing sales is something I have done and continue to do – it was all the more fascinating for me to understand what the data was “supposedly” pointing out . 

And then an old buddy called me out of the blue and while talking shop – he mentioned that despite extra focus on accurate forecasting , the new CEO of his company was constantly frustrated with his sales leaders . A month before quarter close he accused them of sandbagging the forecast – and he got the numbers he liked as a result . Two days after quarter closed , the results didn’t look anywhere close to forecast and he yelled at sales management for bad forecasting . We both found it funny and sad as he was recounting this story – it’s all too common a scenario .
Let’s get tools issue out of the way . Although they won’t admit it publicly – companies that build sales management and planning tools also mostly do sales forecasting on a series of spreadsheets . Some put a fancy UI on top for C levels to see the results . Essentially – very few companies have figured out a tool to enable end to end sales forecast management  . Tools are all great – just that tools are not the problem this business function is low in effectiveness. Tools can help somewhat with efficiency – but not effectiveness .

Why do people bother with forecasting to begin with ? I will tell you my view – others might have their own opinions. The ideal reason for me is making prioritizations on resource allocation, followed by predictability . 

I like my sales reps to be “selfish” resource hoggers who do everything they can to win the deal (ethically etc of course). I want my sales managers on the other hand to provide the company view and prioritize which deals get what resources . This provides healthy tension in the system and gives me enough information to make executive decisions ( hiring , changing structures , discounting principles etc). 

Predictability is only a second aspect for me – but it is a close second . For good or bad – investors need predictability every quarter whether it is public or private capital markets the company operates in . And this causes a lot of “tail wags the dog” scenarios in sales forecasting . 

Pipeline management is a perfect casualty . Qualified pipeline is what we as sales leaders think drives sales . That is possibly true too – but what the sales system tells you as qualified might not be real in most cases . Which brings us to this thing called “coverage”. Conventional wisdom in my indistry is that to close $1 in sales , you need somewhere between $2.5 to $4 in “qualified” pipeline . We even.        pay some teams directly for drumming up demand to make sure our reps have such coverage . Plus the reps bring in their own opportunities . 

More often than not – reps won’t have the coverage their upline managers expect . There starts the exercise of low quality opportunities getting created to make the numbers up . Some times it is done with best of intentions – overly optimistic reps just think they have a real opportunity and their managers either share their optimism or just are too lazy to test for qualification till they get too many questions . End result is that a wrong pipeline number is set and published that is 3X the expected sales number from the CFO . And when sales doesn’t come close to that – or when sales exceeds the “call” by a lot , no one knows why. Should anyone really be surprised ?

Let’s look at the evil effect on resource allocation too before we wrap this up for today. Two thirds of way into a quarter , experienced managers will know whether they have a prayer of hitting quota for their team. This usually starts the process of parading top execs from the company in front of top execs at customer . The CEO of a vendor who goes before the CEO of a customer at end of quarter very rarely has the ability to say no to unreasonable asks . So they end up “buying” business at high cost of sales . Some Sales reps and sales managers who have a lot of experience know how this game plays out and occasionally do set up things this way for the top executives . You can’t blame them – your poor forecasting process and the metrics you use to compensate sales people are now working against the best interests of your company . 

Bottom line – before sales managers over invest in sales forecasting , they need to think through the holistic picture of what they want to achieve as end result . Situation differs for all of us and hence I don’t think there is a prescriptive one size fits all solution . I definitely will be rethinking this all over from scratch over the holidays . 

Is my cup of green tea frappucino half full or half empty ? 

  

If you are interviewing with me …


A good part of my time is spent spotting new talent and grooming leaders in my team . And since we have a lot of demand for talent at the moment – I am spending a lot of time interviewing candidates . Several folks have reached out in private to ask me what it takes to do well in such interviews .

First – it is easy to impress me . So don’t stress out on that  . I don’t bite (and very rarely even bark) . Second – impressing me alone doesn’t get you a job . We have a systematic screening process to eliminate bias . It’s not perfect perhaps – but it lets me be me and my colleagues be themselves and yet we end up collectively as a good evaluation team . And third – because we know each other through social media doesn’t automatically make you more qualified . 
So here we go 

1. Be pleasant 

We hunt in packs normally – whether it is sales or delivery . If you are not pleasant to be around on interview day , I doubt you will survive in a high stress customer engagement where several of us need to depend on each other to get to a successful end result . Dress for the job you are interviewing for – there are no bonus points for looking extra sharp . 

If you prefer working alone – do tell me upfront . Occasionally there are jobs that can work with people working in a lone wolf fashion . But it’s better we discuss that upfront because vast majority of roles in my team will need you to be part of a team .

2. Be honest 

Don’t tell me anything you can’t back up if I push back . Especially on your actual project experience . I am a hands on techie myself . If you claim that you are an expert programmer , I might push my MacBook to you and ask you to debug a piece of code , or write a small program or something . My intention is not to get you to a “gotcha” moment – it is more about understanding if you can debate back and forth with me on a topic , technical or otherwise . But in the process if you prove to be dishonest – you won’t get hired by me ever again . 

I don’t expect you to be an expert in all aspects of the job . But I do expect you to know enough on the key skills and prove to me that you have a willingness to keep learning all the time . 

I once interviewed a programmer who claimed to have done some complex program for a customer I knew . He explained clearly every design point and I really liked him . I asked him if he wrote the code or if he just maintained it . He assured me that he wrote the original code . I didn’t hire him despite his excellent tech chops – because he was being dishonest. I wrote that original code ! It was just his bad luck that he ran into me with that story – but that is what happens when you are dishonest .

3. Explain with examples 

For example – If I am hiring you for sales , I expect you to tell me exact figures of past accomplishment . Don’t just tell me “I killed it” ! Explain to me how you overcame specific buyer objections . Tell me about your good years and bad years in terms of quota coverage and explain what made them good or bad . 

If you are a developer or Ops person – show me your code contributions and give me specific examples of both good and boring stuff you have done . 

Do expect me to challenge your claims and I might choose to role play as a customer . I will need you to provide references and I do check all references . 

Many years ago – I was interviewing a young lady for a BI Architect job in my team. She had impressive tech skills . And then she told me “I will need to work from home when I have my periods . I cramp a lot at that time and I will get easily irritated”. I didn’t exactly know what to say ( my wife was pretty stunned too when I told her about it later) , but I hired her . I did set the expectation with customer and my team about this and she totally hit it out of the park . 

4. Explain what makes you interested in the job 
Do some research before you talk to me on interview day  . What is it about the job and the company that interest you ? What are your apprehensions ? What support will you need in terms of training , Presales support etc ? Why is this different from your last job ? What makes you excited and what makes you bored ? Are there things like travel restrictions etc that I should know ? What is the growth you expect drive for yourself , the company and the customer ?

Remember – the more information you give me , the more is my ability to find a suitable position for you . You might not be the best fit for my team – but at any given point I know other open positions that I can refer you to. 

Couple of months ago , a young technologist from Silicon Valley was interviewing with me . His skills were such that I really thought he would not take up a job in my team and would join one of the local startups . I asked him about that and he replied “I don’t want to build consumer toys – I want to change the world of enterprise data”. I hired him ! 

5. If you have questions, ask me 

You should be evaluating me and other evaluators just as we are evaluating you . If you have questions for me – please ask me . Interview days are penalty free zones with me . Ask me anything . I will tell you everything I know about that – and if I cannot say something for confidentiality reasons or something , I will let you know . 

Don’t ask me questions you can find out answers by yourself easily by looking at company’s website or on Internet in general . Also if my answers are not satisfactory – push back on me . If we need to work together well – we need to hold each other accountable and this is a good test for you and me both .

The more senior the role – the more are my expectations on what questions you should be asking . For executive hires – it’s mostly going to be you asking me great questions and less about you answering my questions . 

6. Don’t take the job if you are not FULLY sure this is what you really want

If you join my team, I expect you to do so with full excitement with little to no apprehension . So use the interview and hiring process as the time to get rid of your apprehensions . Talk to your family and friends before you take the job to make sure your job is aligned to your personal life and goals .  If you have even a tiny bit of doubt that this is not the right team for you – do yourself and the team a favor and don’t join .