Dec 20, 2009

Aligning Ferret, Aligning Life

Sometimes a thought or small idea is good enough to change the direction of life.

A few months back, I had an opportunity to read a business novel Aligning Ferret : How an Organization Meets Extraordinary Challenges by Swapna Kishore and Rajesh Naik. I enjoyed reading it. I found striking similarities with situations I encountered while leading initiatives in several organizations. It describes an exciting journey of an organization beyond the operational processes and how the organization transformed itself as a real business powerhouse, surmounting several obstacles.

I read this book while I was offering consulting on IT. I was always amazed by the power of IT in transforming business. However, I was also looking for an area to focus on. Aligning Ferret clearly brings out how clarity of strategy supported by a measurement system can have a significant influence on the organization performance. It highlights how tools/methodologies such as Balanced Scorecard and People CMM can be used to address issues faced by several organizations today. I must say, reading this book influenced me to choose Business Dashboards as an area of focus for my consulting offering.

Several organizations face a peculiar situation, on achieving certification of operational processes (like CMMI and ISO). Clients’ expectation go up. Organization thinks they can relax for some time before taking up an improvement initiative. Some of the QA resources are pulled out for ‘revenue generating’ projects and some QA resources leave the company. Even when the celebration is going on, the core delivery process may be operating at level 5, but the enabling processes such as hiring and performance management may be operating at level 1. Often, the combined forces bring quality level back to square-one in a few months time. So, another improvement initiative is undertaken, typically without linking it to the “big picture”.

Aligning Ferret is a wonderful business novel that packs not just several interesting events and humorous situations, but also several deep insights for CXOs, Delivery Heads, Quality Professionals and Project Managers, in their journey towards the next level of excellence.


  1. I was reading an article by a well-known CEO of a retail company, who had to decide on sprucing up his store performance (which had implications on supply chain) v/s cutting down his supply chain costs. One designed to increase top line and the other to effect a better bottomline.

    Never an easy answer if you are in the CEO's shoes & responsible for shareholder value.


  2. I agree with Siva that C-Level Executives are in hot seats, with huge pressure to achieve growth and profit goals, even during recessionary times. No wonder so much turnover of CEOs are happening in the industry and CEO’s salaries are sky-rocketing. Achieving results with definiteness has become a requisite not just for CEOs, but for all senior executives, to survive. Several CXOs are pulled into fire-fighting with operational issues. But, some have mastered the art of strategy management, often with proven tools/techniques such as Balanced Scorecard.

  3. I had the personal experience of leading a team of 5000 people successfully, using the Balanced Score Card as a key driver. It aligns teams bottom to top, and Top to Bottom. True to its nomenclature, it balances the multiple perspectives of the organization across multiple units. The trend of Score card metrics across regular intervals shows the health of the organization for the past, current as well as future!!

  4. I am planned to take on a CXO kinda role in a SME setup which has ambitious growth targets. Lotsa strategy & operational alignment challenges. BSC kind of mechanisms would ensure that we stay the course without jeopardizing one for the other.
    Hoping to benefit from all your experience, Thomas & Ram.