Water the Root, Enjoy the Fruit

30 August 2013

Ashish Mahajan
Ford Motor Company


Yellow or dry leaves on a tree have more to do with its root than its color; they're an indication of the need to water the roots. For a tree to flourish, to bear green leaves and fruit, it's the root that needs to be watered.
 
This is to say, put focus and care into your core every day, and the rest will flourish and express itself.
 
At times, we are too busy discussing and analyzing things at a very high level, trying to improve the color of the yellow leaves by applying patches, and thereby ignoring watering its root. We are so obsessed with achieving better results every time that metrics, processes, and numbers become the focus of discussion in the organization. We keep on doing the same thing again and again, expecting different results every time.
 
Measure more, measure accurately, implement jazzy-flashy processes with new-fashioned terminologies of promises of skyrocketing results, keep everyone occupied, and reduce cost at any cost!
 
And most of the time you get the same results, or even worse.

You cannot be better if you keep doing things that gave you the same results.
 
You cannot solve problems with the same thinking that created them.
 
How do you think outside of the box -- or destroy the box itself and never be in it?
 
We all know, subconsciously or consciously to a certain extent, what the real thing is that stops us from getting what we want. Yet we focus on improving the color of the leaves, applying patches, quick fixes.
 
Here are some of the things that, I believe, are watering the Tree of Product Development so that it will bear the fruits of success.
 

 
Focus on automated unit tests and refactoring the code every time you see an improvement opportunity, and quality will take care of itself.

Focus on having open, honest, and professional discussions with customers, and trusted partnership will take care of itself.

Promote a culture of failing fast and encouraging the making of mistakes, and time to market and innovation will take care of themselves.

Implement the DNA of value flow into the organization, and cost will take care of itself.

Focus on respecting and improving skills of the people in your organization, and the results will take care of themselves.

Destroy the cubicles, both physically and mentally, and the waste won't find a place -- and will take care of itself.

Focus on building great teams, and great products will take care of themselves.
 

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