One Guess as to which company is really driving innovation (and their competitors crazy) along the Smiling Curve Model at both the ends ?


It is Walmart.

The largest US company (maybe also in the world) whose turnover is greater is than the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of some countries.

The giant who is extremely passionate in it's mission to lower our cost of living !

(God bless You for protecting my purse !)

Whose reputation invokes definite awe and shock amongst not only giant (running away ??) retailers but also global FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Good) companies like P&G, Unilever, etc all over the globe.

(Statutory Warning : A Self-Plug Coming ) The only question I ask Retailers in my consulting Work is "How will you compete once Walmart decides to enter your market ? "

(Stories of their employee lawsuits notwithstanding) I frequently quote their rich repository of management and technology strategies as examples of best practices to be followed not only by retailers but also by organizations in other verticlas.

Hence, I was quite pleased to discover in a little gem about their software development practices written by Michael Schrage - Co-director of the MIT Media Lab's eMarkets Initiative.

Walmart makes their software developers actually work as 'Users' on the tasks which are getting computerized, before actually allowing them to start designing software and writing code for the same.

Effectively ensuring that both the roles of system users and developers get merged into one person.

A Super Smart Switch of Identities !

So that the software seesaw stops swinging between users and developers saving time, tempers and Tylenols.

I wish I knew of Walmart's practice many years back when we had to implement an IT system for use within our own development team.

The resistance shown by our own software developers when they have to use an external application or system has to be experienced.

Good Old NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome always at work.

One point though.

Michael Schrage 's article makes a misleading point (like a misfired missile) !

It assumes (eExtremely passionately) that offshore development and software methodologies do not go hand-in-hand (or Mind N Mind or Brain N Brain)

Sorry ! Offshoring cannot always be a nearby nail to hit a hard heavy hammer !

Speaking of hammers, what happens when someone decides to be the hammer (sorry Walmart) of the Global IT software services industry ?