Accion Labs demystifies its culture with transparency

So, one of the company’s leaders takes on the role of interviewer, asking the tough questions that everyone is thinking, but doesn’t want to say.

“We will start with something really core to their mind,” he says. “We don’t try to hide questions. Any question is acceptable. That’s really important, because we don’t want to control what’s being asked.”

For example, Accion Labs had lost one customer, which put 27 people on the bench. The leading question was: What happens to those 27 people?

pit_cs_KineshDoshi5_0916“If you think about it, that’s exactly the question they are asking each other around the water cooler and the copy machines,” Doshi says.

Once someone from the leadership team starts, others will speak up.

“I’m a strong believer that if you put it on the table, I have an influence on the direction that the employees are thinking,” Doshi says. “If you don’t, you just don’t know.”

Along with this approach, comes the need to accept your mistakes. If an acquisition, for example, didn’t go well, then don’t try to hide it.

“We think if we accept our mistakes, we will look bad. We will look inept in execution and like bad leaders. And that’s not true,” Doshi says.

It’s not just a matter of communicating problems, but providing direction to the communication through organized systems. You can make it clear what you’re expecting from your employees.

“This also gives (employees) the feeling that leadership is honest, direct and they are not trying to hide information,” he says.

“Because today, the way the world operates with the internet and all that, there’s no way you can hide anything.”

 

Takeaways:

  • Identify thought leaders to spread the cultural message.
  • Open the lines of communication with authenticity.
  • Transparency helps turn concepts into executable ideas.

 

The Doshi File:

Name: Kinesh Doshi
Title: Founder and CEO
Company: Accion Labs

Born: Delhi, India
Education: Bachelor’s in electrical engineering, from Delhi College of Engineering; Master’s in electronics from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi; MBA in finance/marketing from Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

pit_cs_KineshDoshi6_0916What was your first job and what did you learn from it? My first job was with a leading IT firm in India as a software programmer. Besides programming and software development best practices, I learned:

  • What matters is not how many hours you put in a problem but how fast and effectively you solve it. This means outcome is more important than the effort.
  • Attitude, work ethics and being a team player is very important to accomplish extraordinarily large projects.
  • Constant learning is key to professional success.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received? My first boss told me “it does not matter how many hours you put in, what matters is what you produce.” In essence, efficiency matters. He encouraged me to always focus on outcome, action and results. Besides professional success, I feel that this focus on outcome has allowed me to balance work and life and helped me achieve more in my personal life.

Is there one piece of technology you could never go without? I have to admit I spend a lot of time on my emails and my phone. Of all the apps on my phone, I can’t go without my calendar since I track both my business and personal commitments on it.

What do you like to do when you’re not working? I listen to music, run on the trail and read about technology and philosophy. I also like cooking with my family.

What person do you most admire and why? Mahatma Gandhi. In his book “My Experiments with Truth,” he talks about how it is important to be an authentic leader, speak your mind, not carry ego and consider and accept other’s viewpoints.

This philosophy is all the more relevant to business leaders in today’s dynamic environment where one has to balance multiple stakeholders such as investors, employees, partners and clients, and react to new information on a daily — and sometimes on an hourly — basis.