‘How to drive excellence to business?’ This is one of the most discussed topics among leaders and managers today. We found insightful information to pave roadmap to achieve business excellence while interviewing Mosesraj R, Associate Vice-President, CIO and Head of Excellence, Brillio.
In our interview we spoke about current state of business Agility in India, challenges in building a quality-centric organization, and his mantras of driving excellence to business to mention a few.
Q1. How would you like to get introduced to the uninitiated? What motivates you to drive business excellence?
Moses: I would like to be remembered as a person who said only what he did in reality. So would like to be introduced as a person who strived to drive changes that improved life of people in an enterprise. Solving real world problems motivates me. I like to tell stories and inspire people to adopt to better practices and tools.
Q2. What is the current state business Agility in India as per your experiences?
Moses: Business Agility is definitely moving North. Newer technologies that offer faster development, intense competition coupled with Agile mindset is driving this for better. Possibilities are numerous and so is openness to use technology to solve real world problems. However, there are still challenge in measuring value, moving at speed of business, architecture for Agility etc.
Q3. Please mention 3 major challenges in training and enabling people to improve capability of organization, and build a quality-centric culture? How to address those challenges?
Moses: A motivated cohesive team is critical for success as a team. It is not about Agile methodology but aligning the entire value chain to be Agile. In an IT services organization like ours, we have teams formed for every engagement that needs to start performing quickly and deal with a new set of business and client IT teams that add to the variability. This challenge is predominant in most IT services organization. There are no easy ways of addressing but this is what I have found it to work. Organize an Engineering team that would lead the customer in thinking and delivery. Engineering team is in the control of the IT services organization. Hence investing in them to structure them right, have right processes, tools and training helps them to build trust and take the customer partners along.
The second challenge I see is the value paradigm. How can we do work that changes lives of end users and not what they ask or perceived as a need. 42% of start-ups fail not because they aren’t Agile but because they developed products that are not the real need. Collectively we need to enable the team to measure value upfront. This challenge can only be addressed by elevating the role of product owner to understand ground realities and designing solutions. This would mean, product owner should be able to get to root of reality, understand what really causes the barrier for users, stitch the technology solution, work with stakeholders who matter and build the solution. Upfront product owner should be able to qualify that real-world barriers are being broken with the new solution. Design thinking can come handy for product owners in this regard.
If I have to pick a third challenge, I suppose it is about the measurability of the engineering solution. “Left to itself things only decay is the principle of entropy. Similarly, aspects never measured and acted upon, will keep deteriorating”. Rolling ice gathers more mass. So is a product where holistic quality is not monitored. Brillio has developed a product called BOLT that helps the team visualize their entire progress, code quality, build quality. Functional quality in one window. Most of these measurements are automated giving better confidence on measures. Training the teams to look through the solutions will help in developing great solutions.
Q4.How important it is to set challenges for a team as a Leader? Challenge vs Motivation, what’s your pick and why?
Moses: I think Challenge and Motivation go together. Without challenges it is difficult to motivate. Here is how I think motivation works. When purpose is tall, challenges increase. Precious metals are found deep beneath the surface, so are taller purposes. Purposes like products with great UX, lightning speed delivery, amazing product performance, products that break real world barriers doesn’t come easy by any chance. When the team connects themselves to these purposes, motivation is a given. It is important to help the team to win some battles. I would like to recount a recent incident. At Brillio we developed a product called “OnTheGo” to help people do most of their daily tasks in one click taking not more than 2 or 3 seconds. In a townhall for one of the units, when the fresh entrants to the organization were asked to come up with a talk about what is good in the organization, they chose OnTheGo, the mobile app of the organization. When we came to know, the entire development team was sent to attend the event. This was a great motivation for the team as the development team was always challenged to make a difference to people through their solution. Sustained excellence always pays back.
Q5. As per your experiences of implementing Agile in Service/Product Company, what is one critical thing that Agile misses?
Moses: I suppose being focussed on value is the single most attribute of success of a product. Teams may get speed, adopt ceremonies well etc. but may end up not addressing the real need. Need drives everything. If the team can start experimenting to address the real need and figure out a success mantra early for their context, I suppose success is much higher.
Q6. Share your 2 mantras to drive excellence to business?
Moses: Mantra 1 – Listen intensely to user problems/challenges and see through their words, the ground realities. Value is built by breaking real world barriers and not always by doing what people say or ask.
Mantra 2 – Excellence is never an accident. It has to be built, innovated and sustained.
Q7. What are the signs of poor alignment of team with business goals? How can we overcome such situations?
Moses: Siamese twins is one of the best story for alignment. When one of the twin suffers, the next invariably suffers. This is a good parallel for alignment. It is important to understand that lack of alignment is more felt in pain and the quickness of the pain being felt. For example, if the users aren’t getting the value, how quick can the feedback reach the engineering team and the team does something about it. In general, do few things, design for value upfront and measure the value continually. Alignment is a logical outcome if this value paradigm is managed properly.
Q8. One thing you would like to advise the new generation of Change Agents, Agile Enthusiasts, and Business Leaders.
Moses: Design for value and measure value – embrace design thinking. To ensure increasing value delivery, look at the entire value chain, identify constraints and streamline continually. You will make an impact.
Mosesraj heads Brillio’s IT and agile functions and has been instrumental in driving cloud adoption, modernization of infrastructure and driving excellence in software delivery. With 20 years of career experience, he has led multiple change management initiatives to drive better delivery to customers. Prior to Brillio, he has worked with Infosys Technologies and with MRF Tyres. He is a B.E. in Mechanical Engineering from Government College of Engineering, Salem and has a master’s degree M.S. in Software Systems from BITS.