Thursday, December 3, 2020

Restaurant Openings During Covid

We all hear bad news about restaurants these days.

But, according to an article in "Crain's Chicago Business", an average of 12-15 new restaurants are still opening each week in the Chicago area.

That shows that life goes on, and entrepreneurs are brave and willing to take prudent risks for their dreams.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Strategic Simplicity® For Innovative Customer Service

Chip Bell is a big advocate for innovative customer service.  He gives some examples in his recent Forbes article (

Three of the examples are also good examples of Strategic Simplicity®:

1. The Tampa Airport having a "pull over GPS" parking area when exiting the concrete rental car garage (which blocks signals) so that drivers can enter their destinations into their smart phones.

2. Arby's having pre-printed wrappers with the name of the food item on it.  This is an example of user simplicity that helps out both customers and employees. They can know which item is which without having to unwrap them.

3. An airport newsstand selling pain reliever, which contains a foldable, disposable cup to hold water for swallowing.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Endless Zoom Meetings

Some online meetings just drag on and on...   Happy Halloween 2020!

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Praveen's Stepping Stone Model

Big, audacious goals and complex projects can seem overwhelming, cause procrastination, and trigger resistance.

The key is that, while we want to dream big, we can implement small (and iterate).

Projects and initiatives can be broken down into phases and chunks (which can be further broken down into micro projects).

The advantages of stringing together stepping stones are: quick wins, less paralysis, and more flexibility to pivot (which is important into today's rapidly changing environment).

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Monday, October 26, 2020

"Stock Trading Riches" Return Through 2019

It's now been 15 years since I've invested my portfolio according to the system in my book Stock Trading Riches.

Here is the cumulative 15-year return (Source for S&P500 returns):

Year, Me, S&P 500  

2005, 13%, 4.91%  

2006, 14%, 15.79%  

2007, 22%, 5.49%  

2008, (40%), (37%)  

2009, 44%, 26.46%  

2010, 22%, 15.06%  

2011, (5%), 2.11%  

2012, 13.3%, 16%  

2013, 23%, 32.39%  

2014, 13%, 13.69%  

2015, 1.49%, 1.38%  

2016, 20.88%, 11.96%  

2017, 26%, 21.83% 

2018, 8.31%, (4.38%)

2019, 30.31%, 31.49%

My portfolio had a cumulative 15 year return of +438% vs. +261% for the S&P 500.  
That translates into a 15 year average annual return of 10.35% vs. 6.61% 

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Software Security Vulnerabilities in Unused Code

I work with a lot of clients to make sure their project managers, software architects, developers, analysts, and stakeholders are all on the same page—aligned on the business value of new projects.

Not practicing Strategic Simplicity®, and maximizing value while minimizing waste, can really weigh down technical organizations, and reduce resources for competitive innovation.

Sure, developing the wrong / un-needed features negatively impacts project completion, but delivering the project is the tip of the iceberg: the real pain of badly scoped software becomes apparent once it goes into production.

Not only can badly designed software cause customer service issues, but they can unnecessarily compromise security, and make the whole company vulnerable to hackers.

I've seen software applications regularly fail security audits due to code vulnerabilities in features that are never used.  Even if the features are disabled from the menu, the code is still mixed in and will continue to get flagged.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Friday, October 16, 2020

Covid Airline Innovation

Yesterday, I read an article in the Chicago Tribune that I found interesting: Finnair is going to start selling their business class airplane meals (like reindeer meatballs and arctic char) in supermarkets.  They want to appeal to people who are missing the flying experience, as well as keep their catering staff employed.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, October 7, 2020


After the cow jumped over the moon, the other cows said "That's udderly ridiculous!" and refused to jump.

They were grounded beef.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Monday, October 5, 2020


Here is "IT Mastery" at work:

The UK government lost 16,000 Covid cases because it was tracking cases in an Excel spreadsheet (as opposed to a database) but apparently didn't know how to use a spreadsheet. Instead of adding a new row for each case, they were adding a new column.

An Excel spreadsheet has a limit of 16,384 columns, but they didn't realize right away that they ran out of space, and kept adding cases—which are now lost.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Underwater Cloud Computing Data Centers?

I was just reading and article in The Economist that Microsoft recently completed a years long test of locating a dozen server racks under the sea off the Orkney Islands.

The underwater data center suffered just 1/8 of the equipment failures of a land-based data center.

According to the article, some other possible advantages to locating data servers underwater:

1. Cooling is a big expense on land.

2. Land in cities like New York or London are expensive, but not the nearby sea floors.

3. More than 1/2 the world's population lives within 120 miles of the sea.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Haunted House Innovation for Covid

I'm not sure if haunted house "actors" are considered an arts group but, since haunted houses are banned this year, I saw that at least one in my area was innovating.  They set up a haunted experience on some access roads through a camp ground in the woods, where they built different scenarios, each with a team of actors to perform.  

You have to stay in your car, with the windows rolled up.  You drive slowly, and they have red light/green lights set up (like a car wash) to let you know when to drive into each scene and then park.  They perform the scene, and then let the next car drive up.

I would think that you could apply that to other types of performers.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Interesting Amazon Review of My Book "A Strategically Simple Look at Business Innovation"

Today, I received an interesting review on Amazon for my book A Strategically Simple Look at Business Innovation:

You know you’ve picked up a great book on simplicity when you find it’s only 20 pages long. If you need a 300 page manuscript to describe simplicity, then you’ve picked up the wrong book. This is brief, easy to read and chock full of ideas. One thought provoking idea is that we are now in the Attention Scarcity age. We are bombarded every few seconds by more and more. Delivering real value is more important than ever. This is a great read, I highly recommend it.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Monday, September 21, 2020

Shampoo advice: rinse and repeat

Strategic Simplicity® has always been about carving out focused micro-projects, and iterating, self-correcting, feed back, analog vs digital.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Leaders Develop Their Team

As a leader, you’re primary responsibility is adding value to the business and pleasing customers, but it is also to develop your team and make their jobs interesting. 

So, don’t micromanage. Do delegate, but don’t just break things down into rote work. There is a balance that engages people: not too easy, but not overwhelming. A good leader know where his/her people are at, and adjusts the level of work as they learn more.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

scrum / agile, water fall, CMM, six sigma, etc

The thing is, scrum / agile, water fall, CMM, six sigma, etc are concepts that circulate in and out of favor.

The key is how they are actually implemented inside a company.

You can be successful with any of them, as long as you implement them with common sense.

I've also seen them all fail when they are implemented by runaway bureaucracy - where following the process is given more importance than results.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Two Universal Truths

1. If you keep putting something off, then you don't really want it.

2. Shiny new tools are no substitute for judgement and experience.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Organizational Scaling/Maturity and Over-Complexity

As companies mature and scale from the start-up phase, there is a need to add processes and procedures.  However, most organizations over-complicate the bureaucracy.  Complexity keeps growing along with the company.

To be healthy, complexity should taper off and become stable, while the company continues to grow/mature:

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Wake Up! The World of Business is Changing Rapidly!

We're in uncharted territory.  It's a brave new world of social media, global competition, and no gate keepers.   All your employees touch customers and the outcome can be spread word of mouth around the world instantly.

Technology is exploding around us and change is accelerating.

Either you're great or a commodity - there is no middle ground for "good".

People and businesses need to tap their inner uniqueness and try new, creative things. We need to experiment and keep failing and succeeding.

It's all about connections - connecting with customers, suppliers, and partners to continually build more connections and goodwill.

All employees and entrepreneurs need to be artists, social media marketers, and connectors.

We need to learn creativity and improvisation.  We need to continuously create value in the moment.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Good Programming Is An Art

Good programming is an art.

I've had disagreements about this with other software executives.  They think its not an art - its industrial age manufacturing: paint by numbers, drown everything in object oriented libraries, slap another contractor on the project and, bingo! you have success.


In the old days, programming was an ART- done by talented mathematician / programmers who could code assembly, C, and knew how to succeed by omission.

Look at Forth - the secret is what you leave out!

That is why the Apollo mission could run on a fraction of the computing power in your iPhone.

Could not happen today:

1. With "programmers" on bloated Windows PCs using clunky build tools and slinging hash together from object oriented libraries.

2. Even worse - IT "management", with all it's crazy, bloated processes and procedures.  Projects get done inspite of all the CMM, six sigma b.s.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Why You Need A Blog

I once thought a blog was good for directly making money - by selling your products and / or advertising.

Now, I know that's a terrible reason to have a blog - the world is saturated with play it safe, commercial blogs that everyone ignores.

No - I need to write this blog for me - as an outlet - to discuss my ideas and, sometimes as a catharsis.  Those are the posts I need to do - that are written in a frenzy of stream of conscious, improvisational nuggets.

I need my posts  to be art- to be authentic - uncensored. Need to capture my ideas, and put it out for the world.  

By being authentic to who you are, that is the way to attract like minded people, and connect with people. Not connect with any ulterior reason in mind - just the need to express and hopefully draw connections.

Anything worthwhile is accomplished in this fast, moving Attention-Scarcity Age by connecting and working together as artists.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Play It Safe?

Why should we play it safe?

Why should we feel bad to compare ourselves and our results to others - why should we even compare anything to others?

Who says we are competitors?  That only happens if you have a carbon-copy, fungible commodity.

But, even if you and I wrote books on the same topic, they are not fungible - they speak differently - they have a different tune - resonance.  it is quite possible that my book's tune my appeal or affect another,  while yours might make an impression on someone else.

Why should we self-censor and beat ourselves down into a cog in the wheel?

For what?

When I'm afraid and think I should conform, I think of my kids - do I want them to grow up and conform - just be someone in the faceless crowd?  Or do i want them to shine and contribute to humanity - do the thing for which they are suited?

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Problem Solving in The Moment

Solve and brainstorm problems in moment - so its fresh.  Be moment driven.

When you are ready - just do it - no thinking - just start discussing ideas!

Get together and start discussing, thnk of possibilities, what could be the cause of the problem, and then try to figure out a way to prove or disprove your theories as soon as possible.

Do everything in the moment - 

if you want to write - just pick a topic, write, and let it go!

if want to consult, go to networking event, or make speech - then do it!

My daydream is to help people to effortlessly and joyously spread their ideas and create value in the moment.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Corporations Need To Permit Creative Outbursts!

I've spent my life trading, developing software, and managing financial applications and teams that have to put out fires where billions of dollars were at stake.

Where I had enormous pressures put on me to get things done NOW - I got to bend bureaucracy, create in the moment, bypass all processes and procedures.

know what?  I succeeded

I'm not someone who thrives on processes and procedures - most of the time I'm bored - then, when firefighting happens, i shine!  I come alive!

With billions on the line, I'm the goto guy and they let me grab people, figure out what's going on, bypass processes and procedures,  and just do the work!

The sad thing is that this mostly only happens in prod support situations.  Companies would grow and become great if they could allow creative outbursts all the time.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Bring Pure Zen Improvisation to Your Work!

Pure zen improv - don't get scared because you aren't a "professional" actor from Second City - you are the actor of your life! 

This is what I like doing - solving problems, creating - with a group of people - in the moment.  This is deeper than  simplicity and minimalism - its intuition, improvisation, freedom.

Have the courage to create in the moment - old works feel stale - mentally discard that work and create something fresh.

Stop letting yourself or others make you feel like you aren't a professional - or who are you - or what you are doing.  You are worthy and qualified.  You give yourself permission to create.

You're not just a minimalist artist or creator - you're a zen improvisational creative artist.

Present moment awareness.  Creativity, improvisation, creating in the present moment, problem solving.

Let it flow out from you - trying not to get stifled - get the flow going.

creativity, simplicity, zen, improvisation

We need to help people unlock their creativity, be themselves, flow, and shine!  Bring out the best - best solutions, etc - stop holding back - bring out excellence.

Not ok, not good - but excellent - be your greatest stuff.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

What's Your Passion?

What's your passion?  Music, dance or drawing?

For a while, I thought my passion was software development, trading, or simplicity.  Then, I dug deeper - below the surface of these interests.

Now, I know that it's improvisation - creating stories and stuff in the moment - it makes me feel alive…

I really enjoy using my imagination and combining it with present moment awareness.

I think my three intersecting passions are improvisation, zen, and writing.

I think that this is where I feel alive and great!

Maybe that is why this blog, despite not having a lot of traffic, has a high rate of subscribers - a  high range of engagement.

I like having conversations - i love present moment thinking - living in the present zen - creating in the present - then the moment is gone.

Like seeing football live - no replay - you see the play, move on!

© 2020 Praveen Puri

No School Buddhism or Zen

If you look at the texts, there are lots of schools of Buddhism and Zen - that's all academic and bookish - it destroys the spirit of zen.

Be like Bankei - the zen master who preached being unborn.  He belonged to no school or sect - he had his own individual unique zen.

Zen is LIFE - in the moment, the day to day, the mundane!

All the texts complicate it and seem like professors pontificating.

It's all simple - focus on having no preferences, concentrate on the present moment, focus on the inter-connectedness of all living things.

Know in your heart that you are not individual, separate from the world.

You are like a flower - sprouted from the Earth.  You live on Earth, then you die and get absorbed. New people continually sprout up to continue the cycle of life.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

No Desires or Expectations

Don't care about the outcome - just operate from the void - go in a frenzy.

Just write or do!  Don't think too much - let it flow out of you.

I'm in ecstasy as I type like crazy - and let the words flow.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Boom! Let It Go!

What would life  be like if we always improvised - if we always lived life and acted through the void!!

Oh, wow! We'd be free - we would always be in ecstasy!  Can't you see it - just don't censor or plan - just do!

Have no agenda - just let spirit take over and move you - live on your intutition and improvisation - just go with the flow and truly know that you are empty void - just a process.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

I Drank A Clear Glass Of Water

I just drank a cold, clear glass of water - it was so delicious!

Boom! clear zen simplicity

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Saturday, August 15, 2020

The 14 Deadly Sins Of ERP Implementation

I just finished reading David Ogilvie 's book "The 14 Deadly Sins of ERP Implementation". This was one of the best books I've read in a long time!

I think this is a must-read for any CEO or senior executive at a company thinking about implementing an ERP system. As the author keeps stressing: implementingan ERP system is like open-heart surgery and is one of the most critical projects a company will ever do. It's important for senior leaders to be actively involved in the process.

It was a pleasure to read because I could identify with all the issues that the author brought up. It's obvious that, not only has he been in the trenches and experienced all these issues, he also understands their root causes and how to prevent them.

Only about 15% of ERP projects are successfully implemented on time and within the allocated budget. Also, the consequences for a botched implementation are high in terms of money and reputational risk. The wisdom in this book can dramtically improve your odds for success. 

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Society for the Advancement of Consulting® Press Release

I contributed to this press release from the Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC) on why "Diversification Now is Both Doable and Desirable":

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

How Lucrative is United's Mileage Plus?

Because United is using its Mileage Plus as collateral for financing, they had to reveal the financial details and, according to an article in Crain's Chicago Business, it's very lucrative.

Mileage Plus sells miles for about 2 cents each to partners (like credit card issuers) and 1 cent each to the airline itself (which issues them to travelers).  It then costs about a cent when travelers redeem miles for tickets.

The bottom line is that, last year, Mileage Plus posted a $1.8 billion profit, for a profit margin of 34%—compared to 16% for the airline overall.

This is further proof that selling intangible and virtual goods is more lucrative than selling physical goods.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

How Social Distancing is Actually Helping Hollywood Get Better Data

Movie and TV writers and producers are relying ever more on data to help develop plots and concepts.  Their offerings have to compete in a world of streaming, You Tube, Twitter, and Instagram.
Consumers have more opportunities to go down "rabbit holes" of specialized content.

Before Covid, they were reluctant to stream pilots and samples in people's homes, for fear of piracy.  Instead, they relied on recruiting people from shopping malls, casinos, etc. and transporting them to theaters.

Now, they have to rely on streaming, and they are finding that companies like Pilotly and MarketCast can actually measure many more data points, with a larger, much more diverse test audience, that is distributed geographically.

It's another example of how working remotely actually has advantages over in-person.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

GE's Digital Failure A Lesson in IT Strategy and The Importance of Strategic Simplicity®

The Wall Street Journal recently printed an excerpt from the book "Lights Out: Pride Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric" that focused on their struggles to create Predix—envisioned as the Big Data, Internet of Things platform that would make GE "the digital company of the future".

What went wrong:

1. GE engineers are experts in their machines and customer needs, but they could have partnered with a large software vendor who knows building large software infrastructure, instead of going it alone.

2. Instead of building the first iteration with a small software team, and then scaling up as needed, they hired an army of people and poured money on them.

They "...smothered it with cash. But without a coherent strategy and well-thought-out processes, the product development path was a wasteful one..."

3. Amazon and Microsoft already have well-established cloud infrastructure.  Rather than use it, and leverage their years and billions of dollars in investment, GE tried to develop its own data centers.

4. GE's tiny sensors in their machines produce a lot of data, but they used different coding and operated on different systems.  This made integrating them on one platform a complex nightmare.

These four lessons highlight that money and resources are no substitute for well-designed strategy and processes.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Disruptive Innovation Always Creates Jobs

The Wall Street Journal reported that, according to Michael Mandel, chief economic strategist at the Progressive Policy Institute, "when you include all jobs in fulfillment, delivery, and related roles, e-commerce has created more jobs between 2007 and January 2020 than bricks-and-mortar retailers lost."

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Sunday, July 26, 2020

My Quote on Ideas

"Either implement your new ideas immediately or throw them away!  Ideas and intentions decay exponentially."

- Praveen Puri

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

How to Deal with Paralysis by Analysis

"Paralysis by Analysis" is a real threat to effective business leadership.  In today's VUCA world, being able to make quick decisions, and take definite action, is a must.

There is a simple way to prevent "Paralysis by Analysis": eliminate some options as fast as possible.

In other words, even before starting a formal analysis, if a quick-and-dirty glance shows that a particular option is about the same as some other option, then don't even consider it—just drop it.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Examples of Strategic Simplicity® Success

Here are some recent examples of Strategic Simplicity® success in business:

1. The GM of a plastics manufacturer told me that, whenever there was a new custom order, it took 2 weeks to place it into the system, and involved 11 handoffs. Now, it's down to 4 days and 7 handoffs—and they want to cut it down even more.

2. Mattel supported 150 types of red for their toy designers.  Now, they've streamlined their supply chain by eliminating 1/3 of the reds—and are working to eliminate other color options.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Friday, July 17, 2020

Skilled Developers Aren't Fungible

It angers me just thinking about it: "We want our developers to be fungible".

A large bank I worked with wanted all its software developers to be cross-trained to the point where they were fungible, and could easily be substituted for each other.

"Fungible" is used in finance to mean financial instruments that are so equivalent that they can be used to offset each other. For example, if you could buy a silver contract on a NY exchange, and you can get out of the position by selling a silver contract on the Hong Kong exchange, then the two contracts are considered fungible. The regulators and clearing houses consider them equivalent.

But you can't turn a whole bunch of skilled software engineers, working on different projects, into complete commodities that can replace each other at the drop of a hat.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Six Sigma Fallacy in IT

"Six Sigma" was originally created for manufacturing, to eliminate defects.

The original proponents, like GE, never applied it to the engineering and design depts, where innovation and original thinking were required to create.

That's the big fallacy in applying it to software—what developers do is engineering.  The equivalent of "manufacturing" in software is "copy" or "cut and paste", which don't have defects.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Friday, July 3, 2020

2020 PMO Impact Summit Teaser Video

I'm speaking 2020 PMO Impact Virtual Summit in September.

My topic is "IT Strategy and Project Management Success Using the Strategic Simplicity® Framework".

 You can register and find out more at:

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Monday, June 22, 2020

3 Skills Needed for Cross-Functional Leadership

Do you want to successfully lead cross-functional teams? I've done it, and here are the top 3 skills you should have:

1. Troubleshooting:  A leader needs to be able to help determine under which area a problem falls.  For example, if the team is not sure if a drop in sales is due to a sales problem or a marketing problem, then the leader can help the team devise tests that the market-oriented team member and sales-oriented member can apply to determine who should have ownership of the issue.

2. Communication:  A cross functional leader needs to be able to understand and translate the language of different areas.  For example, if a programmer on the team explains an issue to a marketer in technical jargon, causing confusion, the leader needs to step in and translate it from technical into marketing lingo.

3. Agility:  A cross functional leader has to be comfortable pivoting his/her team, as information and situations change.  For example, an issue might appear to being caused by a marketing problem but, as the team starts investigating, it becomes clear that it is caused by faulty customer-relation software, then the leader must get the team to pivot the issue to it's technical members.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

2020 PMO IMPACT Summit

I will be one of the featured speakers at the 2020 Virtual Summit on Project Management / Project Management Office.

If you're interested in IT strategy, project management, project portfolio management, Agile, etc., I hope you'll attend.

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Effective tips for reporting bad news to a boss or client during a reporting meeting

1. Before approaching your boss/client, double check the facts. Make sure you know the problem, ramifications, and possible solutions / mitigations.

2. The best way to deliver is to summarize the situation concisely, like the first paragraph of a newspaper article. Then, follow up with the top options. Only bring up the data or background narrative if it is asked for.

3. The best way to deliver the news is face-to-face. If this can't be dome in a timely manner, then a phone call. #management #reporting

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Everything New Emerges from Turbulence | Amy Segami | TEDxWilmetteWomen

My friend, and fellow management consultant, Amy Segami gave this Ted Talk on Turbulence, and how we need to embrace it if we want change and innovation.  As it turned out, it was very timely!

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Biden Running Mate

Based on this performance, I think Joe Biden should consider the mayor of Atlanta as his running mate:

© 2020 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Covid Sports Innovation

When professional sports resume, they plan to play in empty stadiums.

Today, in the WSJ, I read about how teams are looking at what a Tunisian soccer team from 7 years ago did.  Back then, large gatherings were banned because of the Arab Spring protests.  So, the team had to play in an empty stadium and fans had to watch on TV.  

They created an app that fans could download, which was tied to 40 speakers in the stadium.  As the fans watched on TV, they could click on the app.  The more they clicked, the louder piped-in music was played in the stadium.  So, even though the sounds themselves were fake, it was actually the fans reacting in real time.

Not only did the players hear it, but it created a feedback loop because the fans watching on TV could hear it.

This is just one example of how countries and companies are looking at what others did in the past, under similar conditions

© 2020 Praveen Puri

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