Embrace uncertainty

Here’s how traditional businesses were carried out for generations:

  • The manufacturers wanted to be sure about the orders their distributors will place in the coming year so they will impose strong terms;
  • The distributors wanted to be sure about the assured sales so they will ask their dealers to agree on the dealership deposits;
  • The dealers wanted to be sure about the advance payments that will get from the customers;
  • It was the customer who could not remain certain whether she will get the appropriate product until the product is installed … it is an uncertainty that they can’t do much about.

But now the time has changed. The hyper-connected world has given the never-before power in the customer’s hands.

It is possible to do research not only the product you want to buy but everyone involved in the supply chain along with their business practices, their successes, and failures without leaving your bedroom!

Today is the age of hyper-connectivity and traditional ways based on certainty are becoming least effective day by day.

That is the reason, rather than MBAs, MBA Dropouts are able to generate profitable businesses! (Ok, it’s just a figure of speech but the point is made.)

The design of the hyper-connected world works like this: The customer enjoys the most power … and can enjoy as much certainty as he can, not anyone else no matter if they are the dealer, distributor or the manufacturer. 

Manufacturing in this hyper-connected world is not difficult, it has become different, and a lot of other aspects have come into the picture. The News of bad quality results travels faster than ever. So does the news of successes and happiness that the products or the experiences would have provided!

Today, it is not about whether you have a choice to have certainty in business. It is about the kind of uncertainty you choose to indulge in.

The whole supply chain could work effectively if it is part of an ecosystem that is relevant to the target market it serves or intends to serve … not otherwise.

How to know if you are part of an ecosystem that is relevant to the target market?

By testing every experience and gathering quantifiable data … and base your decision on data and nothing but data.

The emotions of everyone involved in the whole supply chain, as it turns out, is a data point that can be quantified and transformed into creating a win-win scenario.

Openness, not the stubbornness, is celebrated by the hyper-connected economy and openness means the willingness to embrace uncertainty for the greater good.

Solutions mode

In the world of software, IT, and apps, the hourly-mode is what your outsourcing provider in India (or Pakistan or Bangladesh or Ukraine) operates from to bill 12 hours a day copy/pasting the code from StackOverflow for your dream app.

The solutions-mode is what a mindful programmer operates from when he synchronizes your scattered thoughts and comes up with app functions that bring paying users and thus profits to your app/software in an hour or two.

The hourly-mode is measured by inputs: long hours worked, more graphics designed, more documents created, more lines of code written, long client calls attended … if the app fails, fails but the work carried out would always be there to justify the failure.

The solutions-mode is measured by the output: the app’s success in the market. No matter how great the quality of your code was, it is of no use if the app did not bring measurable success.

The solutions-mode does not give unnecessary importance to unimportant things. ~ Find out more

For the solutions-mode to work, the programmer has to “get” the greater application of his software engineering efforts in the market. Unfortunately, most universities don’t teach that as a part of the engineering curriculum.

A lot of people and companies shy away from the solutions-mode because of its inherent risk. The solutions-mode might not bring you enough money to pay your bills if you are not able to find the (relevant) solutions.

The hourly-mode is easy … you just show up, do mediocre work within a framework and cannot fail although the whole project or the product of the project might.

The solutions-mode is scary … where just showing up is not enough … there has to be a real value in what you produce or you are no longer required.

The hourly-mode has a structure, a framework to shift you away from the fault line if the possibility of fault arises.

The hourly mode has a structure to blame.

The solutions-mode, on the other hand, does not come with a structure or a framework.

If the fault arises, it is up to you how you solve it!

Of course, some frameworks may help in the solution identification and delivery process but there is no one to blame if the structure or the framework fails.

And that’s the beauty of it.

The hourly-mode brings the benefits to you when your client is unaware or to be precise, less-aware than what he should. For example, I have observed some companies continue the hourly-mode for as long as 10 years until they realize that hourly mode was the most ineffective way to maintain their 44 different lines of products with their outsourcing provider…

And when they realize, they look for a programmer, or a company, who is willing to work with the solutions-mode but they find it difficult to locate such a programmer or a company for a simple reason: It does not seem to have competition in this hyper-competitive market because people are busy working with the hourly-mode approach.

It is really up to you which mode to operate from. Know that each mode comes with its own set of consequences.

So, chose your work-mode and choose your consequences.

PS: Some people work on a fixed price fixed scope project in hourly mode … nothing is more pathetic than that for both the parties involved.

PPS: While this post has relevance in software engineering, the behavioral part of it applies to non-software work as well.