Generally speaking I am not very good with sitting through long presentations, certainly not one that is 126 slides long. But this was riveting. Why?
Simply because it is so precise, therefore effective and efficient.
Yes it is 126 slides long but the lessons contained is such that you could probably read at least 10 Management books, go through a couple of extensive management trainings with special emphasis on strategic thinking and still fail to grasp or condense all the points that are so precisely formulated here.
Netflix has obviously spent quite a bit of time and effort in putting together this ‘bible’ for their organization. In fact this could very well be a road map that can be adapted and adopted for MOST organizations.
A snapshot of the Seven Aspects of Netflix Culture & their corresponding bullet points are:
1. Values are what they value – Judgement, communication, impact, curiosity, innovation, courage, passion, honesty, selflessness.
2. High Performance
3. Freedom & Responsibility
4. Context, not Control
5. Highly Aligned, Loosely Coupled
6. Pay Top of Market
7. Promotions & Development
To know when to go away and when to come closer is the key to any lasting relationship.
~Doménico Cieri Estrada
You can’t plant a seed and then wait around, hovering over the newly planted seed, waiting for it to grow. The seed will sprout when it is ready to do so. Apart from watering every other day or so, there’s nothing much that you can do to make it grow faster.
Relationships are the same. You need to give relationships time and space to grow. This applies for both professional and personal life.
You have been to a business mixer and you meet someone new. You have exchanged your business cards and /or sent each other emails expressing a desire to be of mutual benefit sometime in the future. The future is not going to come any faster if you deluge them with emails and updates on your activities. Unless there’s a clear case of win-win situation in further follow ups, the first meeting is not very likely to grow into something more meaningful anytime soon. But you can keep your new contact in mind and put them in touch with opportunities that you come across later which you think maybe interesting for them.
Which one of these two scenarios do you think is more likely to end up into a fruitful long-lasting relationship?
The same applies to personal situations. Way too often, I meet people who want to be counted as friends from the very first meeting onwards. To me being called a friend as lightly as that means nothing. Friendships don’t grow out of thin airs. They grow out of consistency, mutual respect and desire for that friendship from both parties. For me …. Friendship is earned, not awarded.
In romantic relationships, specially new one’s people often make the mistake of thinking that somehow now that they have gotten together with the special someone, their lives are going to smash together into one new glorious master piece. Wake up and smell the roses. You had a life before you met him and he had a life before he met you. While the intoxication of a new relationship can be quite overwhelming, resist the temptation to behave as if it’s the only worthy thing that is going on in your life. Don’t lose touch with your friends or families, don’t forget to keep taking time for yourself and to pursue your own interests and hobbies. You need to do it for yourself and he needs to do it for himself.
When both of you have separate hobbies, careers, friends, interests, the conversation that you have when you are together will be that much more richer. If you ditch everything and everyone else in favor of a new relationship, you might find yourself stranded alone when the relationship doesn’t work out. Or even if it does, chances are that you might find yourself feeling bored or stifled.
The principle of planting and waiting for the seed to grow is applicable for almost everything in our life. Your career, your education, your efforts into new ventures… you do your part, then you wait patiently for the results to come.
I know I came home last year from a field visit to one of our projects out in the Char areas and I quit complaining about water shortage. When I don’t have water coming out of the taps, I know that it’s only because someone forgot to turn on the pump that will fill in the overhead tank.
I quit complaining when there were ‘too’ many electricity outages, at least I know that it will be back in hour.
I quit complaining when I had to travel through hot streets in the summer, I know that I will be in the office, cooled by an AC within an hour.
Every time I even thought of complaining, I thought of all the women I had met. Women who walk for miles to collect drinking water for their families. All the people who live without electricity and all the gadgets for convenience that it brings. I thought of the heat in the char, the sun on top and the sand beneath my feet. Day after day, year after year, families survive harsh conditions like these.
Me, I had first world problems, that are not problems. So I quit complaining and started doing more of what I can do to help solve these problems for the millions of people whom I may never ever meet.
Do your part – we can all make a difference.
Market Development, Market Access, Value Chain Development – these are the buzzwords in Development Cooperation these days and there’s no end to the lessons learned around the world on this subject. This particular for-profit venture in Kenya, MFarm, has proven to be effective in giving access to the market for small holder farmers using existing technology of mobile phone and mobile money transfers. The innovation is in getting these small-holding farmers to come together and offer their aggregated product for sale to bigger buyers. Collectively their bargaining power improves for both selling their product and buying inputs for their use. The fact that this is a “FOR PROFIT” venture is probably its biggest advantage – this ensures viability and sustainability in the long-term. For-profit ventures don’t sit so easily in the NGO world, organizations are still skeptical and hesitant at exploring partnerships with the private sector.
Personally, since I am from the private sector and also from a project management background, I tend to evaluate everything in monetary terms and return on investments. Almost like an in-built homing device that is constantly humming to find sustainability in economic performance. I truly believe that no matter what we do, if the economic returns are not profitable to our end users/beneficiaries etc. then after the project withdraws, the fund is gone, whatever result was achieved will be lost. Poor people simply do not have the luxury of doing something because it is best-practice, they are short of money and time with only a limited amount of effort that they can put in to achieve the things that they need to keep themselves afloat.
This venture proves that money works. It works for the small-holding farmers, it works for the people running the platform and it has grown from just 2,000 user to over 7,000 in just a couple of years.
You can read the full article here:
MFarm is a for-profit organization, taking a transaction fee for every deal done using its platform. This has allowed it to grow the number of users from 2,000 in early 2012 to 7,000 now. A study in central Kenya with 600 farmers showed that farmers could double their sales by using MFarm.
“MFarm can lower costs [of supplies] and offer better margins for farmers, but the other value proposition is a consistent market,” says Abass. “It’s not just about the prices but also knowing if a buyer will be available.”
Furthermore, the network can be used to disseminate information relating to international regulations—for example, information about any pesticides that might be banned. “There are so many things you can do with the technology once you have trust,” she adds.
Abass is now focused on the export market and has been in the UK to speak to large retailers who are keen to be more responsible in the way that they source their products.
“They want to have social responsibility,” Abass acknowledges. “By sourcing produce through MFarm, they are playing a vital role in development and securing a consistent supply that is not dependent on middlemen.”
In addition to taking a transaction fee, MFarm has also been selling its data to research organizations looking at consumer behavior and food scarcity.
- Startup gives farmers shot at fair prices, market access via text messages (arstechnica.com)
- MFarm empowers Kenya’s farmers with price transparency and market access (wired.co.uk)
- Mobile Money transforming the lives of the unbanked and banked (spyghana.com)
- How Farm Shop is modernising the agro dealership experience (allanapotashblog.org)
- A Farmer’s Information and Technology Experience (futurescape.in)
- Kenyans Find the Unintended Consequences of Mobile Money (businessweek.com)
- M-Farm, up-to-date market information links farmers and marketplaces (textually.org)
- Appy Agriculture (allanapotashblog.org)
- Kenya’s Micro-Farmers Find New Ways to Help a Friend (citiesofglobalsouthgy2255.wordpress.com)
- Bradford farmers market to raise funds for area farmers (bradfordcares.wordpress.com)
This post is to answer some of the most common questions I face from my professional network on a very regular basis:
What do you do, really?
Well, I am the Advisor for Food Security. Want more information on what we do in Food Security? check us out in the following link: http://bangladesh.nlembassy.org/services/development-cooperation/food-security.html
What does the Embassy do?
The embassy does a LOT of things. The main areas of activity are:
• political affairs
• economic affairs
• development cooperation – this includes policy & program support on Food Security, Water Management, Sexual & Reproductive Health and Rights. Gender and Governance are cross cutting themes.
• consular affairs
• press and cultural affairs.
To get information on Services offered, go here: http://bangladesh.nlembassy.org/services
Want an update on the activities of the Dutch Embassy in Bangladesh?
Follow us on this link: http://bangladesh.nlembassy.org/
I want to do business with Netherlands, how do I find information?
Check out the information in the following link: http://www.minbuza.nl/en/you-and-netherlands/doing-business-with-the-netherlands.html
How can I get more information on Private Sector Development Instruments?
The PDF is 8.3 MB and contains information all the instruments available from different Dutch Ministries to promote business between Bangladesh & Netherlands: http://bangladesh.nlembassy.org/appendices/partners-in-progress.html
How can I get more information on doing business with Netherlands?
For Funding and other support services check out http://bangladesh.nlembassy.org/services/trade-information/economic-services/funding-and-other-support-services.html
- Dutch Trade Day 2013 (corporateskirts.wordpress.com)
- Garment industry: Bangladesh gains at India, China expense (news.in.msn.com)
- Annual Flower Parade In The Netherlands (uniquedaily.com)
- Netherlands queen to step aside; son will take throne (news.blogs.cnn.com)
I am excited about this year’s Dutch Trade Day because we are focusing on Agribusiness and as most of you might have already gathered, business excites me 🙂
So we have the following features for now:
- Incoming Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade & Development Cooperation Ms. Lilianne Ploumen and Dutch Business Delegation.
- Extensive Trade Floor
- B2B Matchmaking through Speed Dating activities
- Seminar on Business Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Business and Growth in Bangladesh
- Workshop on the Financial Instruments provided by the Dutch Government to enhance and support business between the Netherlands and Bangladesh.
FYI – Dutch were the 3rd biggest business investors in Bangladesh in 2012. This year we hope to surpass that position 😉
Our embassy has an excellent team in Economic Affairs who will help you to expand your business, whether you are a Dutch looking to invest in Bangladesh or vice versa. So register and participate!!!!
Courage is the little voice that says at the end of the day, I will try again tomorrow
This is what courage is for me. Not the absence of fear, but to be able to move forward, despite the fear. To fall nine times and to get up for the tenth time, that’s courage. And this is what I saw in the farmers that we visited last week during my field trip to the North West of Bangladesh. It takes an enormous amount of courage to incur recurrent losses in crop and to still go on plowing and harvesting, hoping that this year will be different.
One of the project that we visited has organized these farmers into groups. They have been taught some business skills, production scheduling, when to plant, what to plant, how many farmers will plant a particular crop. By scheduling who produces what and when, they now have better control over the procurement of their inputs, e.g. seeds, fertilizer, pesticide. By scheduling how many farmers will plant a particular kind of crop (usually horticultural item i.e. vegetable) and by spacing out harvest times, they have learnt to avoid the pitfall of flooding local markets with a lot of produce all at the same time. By developing market linkages both for inputs and outputs, they now have better price control over both their buying and selling.
Another group of farmers have gotten together and developed Collection Point. Thus enabling the villagers all around to bring their produce at the same place. The aggregation of produce has brought in more buyers and thus ultimately better prices for each individual farmer who uses the collection point.
Most of these farmers have been trained in the use of organic fertilizer and natural pesticide. According to most of the farmers we spoke to, their costs reduced and their production increased. They were rather vocal about the fact that this year they have not made a loss in selling their harvests due to a combination of factors like production scheduling, better market linkage, reducing costs etc. At this rate apparently most of them calculate that they will be able to get out of debt in another 2-3 years and that is very encouraging news.
In the faces of these farmers, I see courage. It is farmers like them who are keeping city folks like me fed. Their toil, their sweat, their hard work is what keeps the wheels running. To be able to do something for them, to help them get to the next level, the next improvement, the latest technological innovation in agriculture – to be able to give something back by working with them, for them, it’s an honor. It’s an honor and a challenge that I look forward to for the upcoming years.
I know I had disappeared for the past ten days or so, but this trip and its subsequent follow-ups took up a lot of my time and I don’t want to let my heroes down 🙂
- Farmer Crop-Diversity Hurdles Include Lack of Variety, INRA Says – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- A herbal remedy for the ‘bug crisis’ (timesofisrael.com)
- Hope’s Partners – Courage (hope4usnow.wordpress.com)