Just the other day, I was reading Sujatha’s (a famous Tamil writer) book “Thalaimai Cheyalagam” which deals with the functioning of the brain and written in simple details for any ordinary person, who does not have a medical background, to understand. I was surprised to read about the natural blind spot in our vision system where the nerve systems to the brain connect to our retinal screen region. For a vivid demonstration, look at the figure below.
Close your left eye, focus on the dot with your right eye and slowly move your head towards or away from the screen to around 20 inches from it. At one point, the diamond will disappear from sight. (Please do not take a printout to try this out and waste paper! Let us go green!)
It reminds me of the saying “whatever we see or hear might not be the fact, only a deeper investigation/analysis will unearth the real truth”!
Another one of my astounding moments of the realization of the blind spot came when I went through driving lessons in California, US in 1994. Much before that, I had taken driving lessons in Bangalore, India (in an Ambassador car which had the gear right under the unpowered manual steering wheel). My instructor in Bangalore never taught me about the blind spot which happens when using the side and center rear view mirrors. Most of the people in India drive with the side mirrors folded because of the traffic congestion here (fearing the mirrors might get broken). After mine broke, and even though I had a TATA car, the mirror was pricey, I have been managing with a nice plastic patch since then. I wonder how many drivers on the road really know about blind spots here in India. A couple of things my Bangalore instructor told me which I could never forget were, even if a child presses the accelerator pedal, the car will accelerate, so be a sane driver on the road; always have a far sighted view of the road and have a feel for the road traffic; and do not try to look just about the front engine hood while driving (myopic view). The US driving instructor clearly demonstrated the blind spots on both sides of the car by standing right in the blind spot area. Even when I took driving lessons in Dubai during 2005 (it is mandatory out there when getting a driving license!) the instructor never told anything about blind spots!
This triggered my thought process on what the current blind spot areas are in software delivery management. Some of my opinions are given below; feel free to add more relevant ones.
This again reminds me of the book “Straight From The Gut” by Jack Welch (former CEO of General Electric). In one instance Jack Welch mentions that one of his next level leaders pointed to him that insurance is a complex business indicating that he can contribute in that division’s solution requirements (note that Jack Welch is from a Chemical Engineering background). Subsequently that leader did not have a place in GE. According to Jack Welch, any business should be explainable in simple terms.
In today’s IT industry, to empathize with the customer and team members, a PM/DM needs to be versatile and should be able to explain the problem, functionality or solution in simple terms.
Once Subroto Bagchi (Gardener and Vice Chairman of MindTree) said that most of the airports are conceived for “bum handling business” (how to fill up the airline seats and get them out of the airport)! Whereas when the Singapore Changi International airport was conceived, it was conceived as an aerotropolis with so much of attention of the unsaid requirements of a traveler.
In product management as well, the PMs/DMs need the capability to unearth these unsaid requirements and look at implementing them as value addition. Currently, on most of the product management, this side mirror is folded!
I think Steve Jobs once said, the customers never ask for lithium ion batteries explicitly in their digital equipments, whereas they ask for only longer battery life!
In A.G. Lafley’s (former Chairman, Procter & Gamble) book, “The Game Changer”, he indicates that when the Mexicans complained that the washing powder creates a burning sensation in their hands, it is not about manufacturing a better washing powder but it is about the unsaid requirement of a washing machine!
Since this blog has already become long, I will cover some more blind spots in my subsequent blogs. Meanwhile, I welcome your point of views.