“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ― Albert Einstein
Here’s the thing; there are two ways to work with change, either avoid it or embrace it. When one avoids the change, they remain stagnant, rigid, inflexible and unmoved. In this world of ever-changing customer expectations, one cannot be all that. Embracing the change is difficult for every person at every step of life, but the change is the only real constant.
In our case, Hexa was the future and we had to move forward to building an omnichannel contact center that is first of its kind. With our extensive research and constant interaction with customers, we understood their pain points in the communication landscape. With the existing technology and infrastructure, companies in the CPaaS space are not future-ready to meet customer expectations. We needed an impactful change for that, so the first major leadership challenge was to accept the change: first by myself, and then by the teams.
Setting a new path for the teams
The thing about setting a new path is that one can never be sure what the outcome of walking down that path will be. There are sheer uncertainties and a few major risks that could turn the business upside down or vice-versa. With Hexa planned at a large scale, where each feature would be scrutinized, channelized and upgraded, each part of the application journey streamlined to meet customer demands, and each URL of the existing application unified on a single console, I could certainly see potential risk.
With Hexa, it was a ‘do-or-die’situation for us and we decided to ‘do’ it.
A large part of the challenge was to get the technology and product teams adapt to the newer version of the product. It would have been easy if our then-existing platforms were not performing well, and we moved towards an alternative to coming out of that situation. On the contrary, our existing products were performing well and this made it even more difficult for the technology team to understand the need to adapt to an uncertain, high-risk product. I completely understood their point of view. In the best interest of the organization and to create a futuristic solution for customers, taking this step to move our existing platforms to Hexa was not easy. But what was worse was to remain stagnant with then-existing technologies, even after understanding the pain points of the customers very well.
To spearhead these changes and to bring all the teams to a common point was definitely challenging, as each individual is different and so is their thought process. But we didn’t want to go ahead and start the building process without the teams being in line with the overall objective. We conducted a product-training session, where we took the teams for an offline session and understood their problems. Then we decided to bridge the problems and brought the teams together. The session was very informative and guided the team in the right direction.
And, over a period of time, after constant endeavors to pitch in the new user-friendly designs, ease of access of building and scaling the application, we did understand that moving towards the future is the right thing to do and the teams were well aligned by that time. The key takeaway is that it is always best to align the teams before building the product so that their contribution is directed towards a common goal and nothing is missed in the later stages of the product development.
Finding the right positive triggers
At times, when there are significant things happening around, there are chances of us getting lost. Soon after we started building Hexa, we reached a point where it seemed like a dead-end, from where getting out with a probable solution seemed almost impossible. When in a crisis like that, we realized that getting in touch with people out of the organization can help. Offbeat people with different mindsets can actually work in unimaginable ways. Surprisingly, we found breakthrough ideas coming from college graduates with zero work experience. This taught us something very valuable: to not underestimate anyone’s capabilities. A lot of mentors from outside the industry, who had achieved bigger goals, also inspired us to resume Hexa work and emerge from the rut. It was a significant challenge for us to identify who these people were, and reach out to them for a way out. While we deliberately chose some people, others just crossed our path during our search. Either way, they gave us what we needed the most: the right direction.
The shift from a Service approach to a Product approach
Over the last decade, we have boasted of the enormity of our technologically strong products. We have built applications that do not just run, but run seamlessly. We have easily scaled applications with strong back end operations. It was important was to understand how new technologies are evolving, and conduct research of what the future of CPaaS is going to be. After meticulous analysis, we derived at the conclusion of moving to a new approach of building the application, which we refer to as The ‘Product Approach’. The difference between the technology approach and the product approach is that the technology approach is triggered by what the technology can do for the customer, whereas the product approach is exactly the opposite, where the customer demands are given importance and they dictate the way the application is built. As part of the product approach, we focused on the minutest details of the user interface, where the Hexa team sat down for multiple rounds of discussions to freeze on customer journey mapping before finalizing the interface. We revised the drafts multiple times and worked on making the best draft to go ahead. We followed the concept of Minimalism, where less is more and simple is powerful. It took us a good 2 months just to freeze on the blueprint of the application.
When there is a change in the approach of building the product, there come different opinions. What becomes challenging is to filter out only the value-adding opinions and most importantly, to take a logical approach to disregard the rest of the opinions. In a team where there are a large number of people, it is always a ball game to manage ideas and set the right process and with Hexa, it was no different. In spite of all the challenges though, we are all glad that Hexa is turning out as planned.
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