“We get brilliant results from average people managing brilliant systems” – Fuijio Cho. ToyotaChairman.
In my undergrad, I used to work for a call center called Ocwen Financial, who handled foreclosures in Florida. This was around internet boom & bust. So, it was not as dramatic as in recent years.
The company was losing millions by the day, and they moved their back office and underwriting to India to stop their losses. They had lawyers and domain experts working in Florida before moving. I was an engineering undergrad with no clue about the concept of either foreclosure or home buying. Ocwen had such an awesome ERP systems, where every communication between lawyers and owners were automated. We were assigned simple task for managing & processing information through the ERP, and the ERP made all decisions for me. In effect, they built such a powerful ERP system that they de-valued the intelligence of people working on it. Brilliant!
It worked wonders for Ocwen. I got the workflow right away. I was one of the 3 or 4 engineers in a group of 1,000 accounting or financial employees. I did not care about domain expertise or lawyer’s opinion. I was focused on volume of processing information as I realized right after training that it is a great system and they just need dumb hands to do the job. Also, I wanted to work for 4 hours so that I could sleep rest of the night as I had a full-time day college to attend.
It made me so efficient that I was 3 weeks ahead of the schedule, when entire company’s average was about 15 months behind the schedule in processing foreclosures.
The country head for Ocwen, could not believe that I cleaned the system in 2 months, and had also ordered for auditing of my work. The, I was awarded the best employee award and asked to train my entire team of 50 people. We were bunch of kids, working in India, in the graveyard shift, changed the fate of the company.
This happened to me again 7 years ago when I was working for Oracle, selling their database, that their brilliant ERP system enabled me to sell half a million dollar worth of goods in Chicago area over two quarters, sitting on a desk, away in India working in graveyard shifts.
Brilliant systems enables average people to get extra-ordinary results. This is so true for product management.