The secret of the pyramid

Like a Lara Croft movie, when all the missing pieces have been fitted into the jigsaw in an underground cavern – the ancient machinery in the cave start turning and pretty soon the very bowels of earth are alive with a new energy. You wonder what magic lies in those little pieces and how such magnificent magic could be made by something so simple.

In the last 4 years, I have seen similar magic unfolding in STSD and it is no less enchanting.

Four years ago, the first jigsaw piece found its way to the correct place, when low cost software engineering from Bangalore found its mark. STSD was formed as a number of engineering labs, to work as ‘integrated business partners’ with the partners lab in the US. The whole idea was to bring a lower cost component into routine engineering activity, so more could be done for less.

This was not to remain unchanged for long. About 3 years ago, Scott Stallard came to Bangalore looking for the truth behind the promises that Subbu seemed to make, every time he was in the US – and that was pretty often!

He was not disappointed because what he saw was a bunch of youngsters – rookies if you may – who had stars in their eyes but who in their excitement had not shrugged off the discipline of the process in their work ethic. The fact that more people would come on board and quickly assimilate to this way of work and believe in it, bore testimony to the fact that this could be scaled up. The second piece of the jigsaw, ‘Economies of Scale’ was in place too.

He went back, asking the team to deliver value as if the cost differential did not exist. Talk about demanding more! Talk about not letting folks get complacent. Talk about wanting to behave like a small organization all the time, when in reality you are a big one!

The team looked to deliver value beyond software engineering. It found the answer in Field Engagements, enabling sales in a company that was desperate for top-line success. And it found success and it found gratitude of the sales folks. When kind words about you, come from these hard boiled folks, to senior management, they do sit up and take notice.

The team also took to innovation like a thirsty traveler takes to a drink of refreshing water after a long journey. More than 200 disclosures in a year were filed, when the previous year, the number had struggled to cross five!

More importantly the engineers started seeing the value in doing these things, without dropping the ball on their engineering commitments. When you talk about it in hindsight, it all appears well laid out and easy, but in reality, making this change was hard work.

Magic of the pyramid

The 3rd jigsaw piece had fallen in place by the time Scott came back 6 months ago. In fact, he was not the only one who saw these connections shaping up. Other hard nosed businessmen, such as Bob Schultz also saw the magic and took notice. That these guys see patterns happening a little ahead of many others – is perhaps why they get to sit in the positions - that they do. This piece that they saw falling in place was, ‘leverage beyond software engineering’. Did they see more than that?

Now if the secret of the pyramid is true, then only one missing jigsaw piece remained to fall in place. It was also time to wonder, ‘What if, things would not work, as they were supposed to?’, ‘Then this whole journey would be naught.’

I am sure alchemists over the ages - as they are working half way through their magic - have wondered whether the magic of their labors would be for real.

The SME event seemed so out of place to what we normally do. Speak to seemingly insignificant little guys and parade them before managers who don’t normally listen to conversations that don’t have the magic word ‘million dollars’ in them.

The fourth and final piece was related to this. It clicked into place when we could show with our ‘strategic initiatives’, that we were working to understand and address these little folks. This was the, ‘regional customer valued innovation’.

As soon as the four pieces fell into place, the wheels of invitation started turning. The SWD visit became the reason for us to get invited to the party as equals. Atleast as equals of equal promise. Now it is for us to deliver, but atleast the doors are open and beckoning.

The magic of the pyramid works.