Tag Archives: Achieving Excellence through Innovation

The architecture of a techie paradise

mindfire solutions techie paradise

“Do you really like working at Mindfire Solutions? “ I asked and saw my friend give me an as-if-you-don’t-know-it-already look. He said, “Whoever would want to leave this techie paradise?”
You may begin to think that I was merely doing a survey. No, I was not! It was a candid coffee table conversation between the two of us. Little did I know that this conversation would reveal the reasons why Mindfire Solutions’ attrition rate is way too much lower than the industry average? Here’s the gist which explains why my friend has been hanging around the Mindfire premises for almost a decade.

You work because you choose to!
Mindfire offers salubrious working conditions that encourage techies and geeks to blossom to their true potential. A flat organization structure ensures that people are free to speak their mind and “work because they choose to”. The wet blanket of bureaucracy hardly gets a chance to snuff out the embers of innovation at the workplace. If you look at the people working here, you will realize that they are a bunch of spirited guys and gals doing good tech work and always asking for more work. In fact one of the employees wrote a Glassdoor review saying “a year in Mindfire is equivalent to three years of experience. Thanks to the vast exposure that techies get at Mindfire with regards to technology areas and client interaction they have a steeper learning curve and a greater opportunity to grow in expertise and reputation (salary also comes under this purview) as compared to their peers elsewhere. A recent recruit who worked for one of the Big 4 companies opined that “We (Mindfire) are just the Right size for recognition of skills/contributions as opposed to getting absorbed in a big company where positions/awards are pre-determined”.

Cooperation, Collaboration and Innovation is the culture here:
There is a culture of collaboration at Mindfire. Most employees feel Mindfire is like a family where there are always people to help out. This camaraderie among employees makes the organization a healthy place of work. There are no walls at Mindfire. We have open workplaces and it should not come as a surprise to find the CEO himself sitting next to you and coding. Even the company financials are made known to each and every employee at the end of every month to ensure transparency. Innovation is the lifeblood at Mindfire Solutions. The way we make extensive use of technology to ensure quality in the work that we do ascertains the fact. We have homegrown systems and tools in place that check for bugs in the code that we write for our customers, keep our client updated using 2MV (2 minute videos), address requests, needs and problems at work, help make better and universally accepted decisions, catalyze day-to-day work, increase the speed of learning and be aware about the happenings in the organization. Stupefied? Aren’t you?

An organization of Knowledge seekers:
That Mindfire wishes to foster a culture of learning and has a knowledge driven culture is evident in the manner it wants its employees to get themselves certified. It has sponsored over 300 certifications with 95% certified software engineers holding Industry recognized certifications from the Industry leaders like Oracle , Microsoft, FileMaker, Zend etc. So it should come as a surprise to know that each Mindfirean has an average of two certifications per head. Not only that, it has sponsored ACM membership for all its employees. There is a great emphasis on dissemination of knowledge. After all, the more you share your knowledge the more you get to learn. Mindfireans have conducted over 170 seminars with a cumulative total of 4000 attendees across teams and centres. They zealously participate in technical forums and have earned brownie points for themselves and the organization. In our endeavor to provide quality software services to our customers, over 2000 code reviews from across various tech areas have been done and there is a dedicated team of 50+ QA specialists testing approximately 250 projects every week. There are 100+ subject matter experts to solve the developers’ queries anywhere and anytime. When it comes to IT spending Mindfire leaves no stone unturned. More than 500 people work on licensed software tools and this fiscal around 25 paid tools have been added in the extensive tools library. Mindfire Solutions is also the proud organizer of the DDM (Debasish Das Memorial) IT Quiz, a national level annual quiz fest for management and engineering students. This event is organized in the memory of one of our most talented employees whom we lost to a fatal road accident in 2010.

Oh and there’s a cherry on the cake too. In order to encourage its employees’ spirit of learning, Mindfire in a maverick move, distributed about 700 iPads and android devices to all its employees last December. Did you just let out a small sigh?

Flexibility in work life= great personal life:
One may begin to wonder that with so much work and learning going on at Mindfire Solutions the personal lives of its employees would be hitting rock bottom. But the situation is quite the opposite. We have fixed time for clients and that gives us more time for ourselves, family and friends. There are no strict rules/policies etched on stone and flexibility is given a lot of importance. Unlike larger companies where number of hours clocked is strictly monitored, people at Mindfire enjoy flexibility in working hours (no time sheets/registers/swipe machines) as long as the work gets done. New mothers/mothers-to-be can avail unlimited maternity leave, those who are ill can convalesce without worrying about losing their job and there is also the work-from-home option for those who cannot afford to come to office owing to certain urgencies at home. Also one does not have to haggle for leaves. Have you ever heard of a company that has a holiday calendar consisting of 365 holidays (366 in case of a leap year)? Well Mindfireans would know this better coz everyday is a holiday at Mindfire Solutions. Nobody forces you to work here. To reiterate a point already mentioned earlier, you work because you choose to. And last but not the least, in this world where “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (TANSTAAFL)” this organization offers free lunch for all its employees across the three centres. Surprised? Don’t be!

Here’s a company which offers tremendous work options in 60+ technology areas, a great learning opportunity and a flexible and laissez faire culture. Not to forget the handsome spot bonuses in lieu of good work done. I am sure now you understand what my friend meant when he said, “Whoever would want to leave this techie paradise?”

Achieving Excellence through Innovation

A common myth is that innovation can’t happen on a day-in-day-out basis. However, innovation does not necessarily mean inventing groundbreaking stuff. It essentially means improvising ways and means of doing the same tasks, so as to do it better, in a ‘smarter’ way.

Achieving Excellence through Innovation
Excellence and innovation can be used not just in a professional context by the CXO level executives but also by everyone of us in our daily lives. If you have moved to a new locality and drive to work, the road to your office might seem convoluted. However, in a week or so, you experiment and you find out not just the shortest but the less crowded yet shortest path. This is innovation. You may have opted to learn about a new platform or technology and would be facing hiccups with the code, new syntax and so on. As you keep working on it, you devise new ways of storing data, syntax or just lookups which make your task easier. This is innovation. And when you and the entire organisation along with you, starts making smaller innovations in their work, that rolls up to a much larger drive. And that becomes the effort of an organisation towards achieving innovation at workplace. Innovation which leads to excellence in everything we do. Innovation which leads to excellence in client relationships, intra and inter-team dynamics.

If we refer to any write-up on business productivity, business improvements and innovation, it is clearly seen that contact points are the ones where most of our innovations happen. What exactly are contact points? They are the points of contact with the client. Think of a retail store which you last visited. You roll the cart towards the checkout counter – That is where you meet the customer service representative. That is a contact point for the retail store. You should not be surprised to see most of the innovations around that contact point – For example, the billboards just above the point of sale, the feedback kiosk with a box of candies, the growing variety of quick merchandise stocked near the counter or even the ever changing self-checkout kiosks.

Think of an airline. Starting from the point when you queue-up at the check-in counter, to when you board the flight to the time you get down from the flight, each is a contact point with limitless ways of attaining excellence. The airlines understand this. As a result, you see a smile being worn on each of the cabin crew. Your feedback about the airline is taken seriously and changes made. The airline industry actually takes pride in innovating around their touch points.

Financial institutions, banks, insurance companies all of them rely on these contact point opportunities to serve customers better, smarter and that is what gives way to innovation. As organisations mature, they perfect the art of innovation. And it starts with contact points.

For software organisations like ourselves, we have over 700+ software programmers working for clients. In a day, over 200+ discussions happen with clients. That rolled up over a month gives us over 40,000 opportunities to showcase our quest for excellence, our drive for innovation. It can start with improvisation of communication skills, taking notes and circulating minutes of the meeting religiously or it can just be responding to an email promptly or it can even be sending off an email as soon as a job is done and it can be anything else as well. It is said that the best ideas are generated from people directly in touch with the clients on a day to day basis.  Harnessing these ideas, nurturing them and leading them to execution would set the stage for newer levels of innovation.

Alternatively, innovation is best initiated at the periphery of organizations as it will be relevant to clients and not just by CXOs in an organisation. I believe that for businesses to excel, the client-facing staff need to open up and share their ideas and feedback with the team. These ideas, if effectively harnessed, ensures client satisfaction and delight. And isn’t that what we are in for?

The question we need to constantly ask ourselves is:  Have we done enough to share the idea which can help me innovate around my contact point?

Author – Subhendu Pattnaik