Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Fasad Ki Jad in Corporate India

"Padhoge likhoge banoge nawab, kheloge kudoge banoge kharab"

No, the idea is not to elucidate or challenge this famous phrase. That debate can be left to the makers of the MS Dhoni movie released recently.

Very simply put, it is Cause and Effect mechanism at work. Although it is a very basic concept but it is applicable just about everywhere - in business, inter-personal relationships, sports,  anything under the sun you can think of.

Consider this

Scenario 1

Fact 1: Sachin Tendulkar was then and (still is) the most prolific Indian cricketer and had a huge fan base across the country. He retired in 2014.
Fact 2: IPL viewership  came down in the subsequent editions for the next 2 years

Question: Does it mean the IPL viewership got affected primarily due to the retirement of the legendary batsman?

Not necessarily true(although I must confess for me it was). It could be largely attributed to an overdose of cricket and also the novelty factor of the IPL fading away.

Scenario 2

Fact 1: Maruti enjoyed first mover advantage and was able to convert this into a sustainable market leadership position
Fact 2:  General Motors entered the Indian market in the late 1990s and was able to establish a fairly good network

Question: Given that GM entered the Indian market at a relatively early stage, was GM successful?

No, GM was not, despite having the early entrant advantage in their favour over several other companies. Companies such as Hyundai quickly took the No.2 spot and leaving behind a considerable gap over GM and even Tata Motors.

Scenario 3

Fact1: To increase sales in a particular month, the sales team plans carnivals every weekend through the month
Fact 2: The sales increased in the corresponding month.

Question: Can the increase in sales  be attributed to the weekend carnivals?

Again it may not necessarily be true. Sales could be higher due to higher discounts/new product launch,etc. One cannot attribute with certainty without examining all the causes.

"Fixing the blame vs Fixing the problem"

Often we jump the gun and put the blame on a person/team/department/incident. This is something corporate India is really good at. Before someone can question you, you fix the blame on someone else. It is a brilliant strategy and many of us have mastered this art.

The outcome of all this is that amidst all the noise, often root cause(s) gets missed out. Strategy/counter action plans are made that look great in the PPTs in conference rooms but in reality are a far cry from the problem at hand.

Find the cause(s) and you are half way there....almost!!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Early Bird Catches The Worm

  1. Wake up alarm : (snooze the darn thing thrice and then off goes the backup alarm which again takes the snooze route)
  2. You overslept  and therefore you skip the planned early morning walk with your wife
  3. You read the newspaper leisurely and by the time you leave your home, you know you are behind the clock to get to office.
  4. You get into the car and put your foot down - 100 ft of driving and lo behold! Traffic jam greets you sooner than you think. Colourful expletives is what you can think of!
  5. On the way to office you get calls which you would like to take after you have opened your laptop, checked some MIS reports.
  6. Each traffic light is programmed against you or so you feel. The red light durations  feel excruciatingly long
  7. By the time you park your car in the office parking, cursing the fellow drivers,  the roads, most of the morning positive energy has already dissipated
  8. You have planned to make a To do list but you get a call and a new task even before you could start planning on the list
  9. In all this, the time you had planned on planning the day is gone and you are just playing catch-up for the best part of the day.
  10. It is 6 PM and you still  havent started on the presentation for noon the next day. You feel you have done a lot of work but when you think over the day's proceedings over a cup of tea, you can barely remember a few simple tasks that you have done.
  11. It is 7 PM and you get a call from your wife to get medicine on your way back.
  12. It is eight thirty on the dials of your watch and still a long way to go. You say to yourself -Well i shall go home and finish the work left.
  13. By the time you are home, it is 9:45 and you are exhausted. You watch TV while having dinner and the "home work" gets pushed to the next day.
Much like the tennis serve - if your ball toss goes haywire, your balance goes haywire to reach the ball, you don't watch the ball closely enough as you normally would and the contact point goes wrong and the serve gets buried in the net. The root cause - one of the links -the ball toss went wrong.
"Early bird catches the worm" - Need not be true - what if the bird is dumb and doesnt take advantage of the start.
Early Bird Likely to Catch the worm - that makes more sense. More on this in the next post.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Captivity of Negativity

An hour of watching news on TV will leave you with a feeling of resentment; there is very little to cheer it would appear.  Why even , the ardent Indian cricket fan's shoulders have sagged after a dismal show recently. Throw in the news of the  mysterious disappearance of the  Boeing 777 and you have a motley of well..."Breaking News" to choose from.

No surprise then, that along with the e-commerce, TV news consumption is growing at breakneck speed while the brakes have been put on economic progress of the country. There is an air of despondency just about everywhere.Without a shadow of doubt, one of the chief reasons for the slowdown is the structural impediments in the form of infrastructure(the lack of it). That notwithstanding, the problem of low productivity of the employed work force cannot be understated.  Gallup recently conducted a survey in India measuring the job satisfaction of Indians; level of stickiness they call it and the results showed that over the last ten years, the level of dissatisfaction has gone up by close to 10 times. While dissatisfaction stemming from lack of jobs is understandable, the manifold increase in dissatisfaction levels of those with jobs is disconcerting.

It is also worth observing that India's engaged workforce as a percentage of total workforce at 9% is less than half of the engaged workforce percentage in  developed markets. What is more worrying is that the percentage of highly disenchanted workforce in India is as high as 31%, higher than developed nations as well as emerging nations.

India’s Employee Engagement Challenge

Those enlightened souls who do not believe in stats can look at their friend groups transcending companies/sectors. I am confident the results will concur to a large extent with the above findings.

So now that the hypothesis has been corroborated, let us delve further. There could be various reasons for the prevailing disillusionment. It would be fair to not paint every disenchanted soul with the same brush. For some it could be an issue with work being assigned to which does not match up to his/her expectation. For some other, working style might not be in sync with the boss or the company. For another, it may be a feeling that his/her effort is not appreciated, given the constraints. There are many other reasons.

Most of the reasons have one thing in common -a lack of leadership. Unfortunately, the chasm between the superior and the subordinate is deeply rooted in our culture. While some would point to benefits for the organization from this chasm, there is a notion that a lack of communication stems from this distance. This lack of communication between the boss and his/her subordinate, if it exists,can be detrimental to the organization. We see several instances of strategists at the top coming out with great strategies, only to see nothing or very little  happening on the ground. Why? It is the disconnect between the planner and the doer, the strategist and the implementer, the boss and the subordinate. Companies with strong leadership do not allow such scenarios to develop. Pareto's principle is applicable here as well -80% of the organization's value add is done by 20% of its workforce( you can make it 70-30  or 65-35 but the point stands) While it is not possible to derive the same output from every employee, it is worth making an effort. That is what managers are there for, are n't they? Ask yourself this, is your boss adding value to you? If the answer is yes, you are lucky. If the answer is no, you ought to be looking for a change.

To conclude, I quote a statement which I felt was very simple yet powerful -

The difference between a manager and a leader  : A manager gets people to do what needs to be done while a leader gets people to want to do what needs to be done. Managers push. Leaders pull. Managers command. Leaders communicate.' - Warren Bennis.

We need leaders, NOW!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Its "Bharat" vs India

"If you show meat to a shark, what do you expect?". Thats the mindset of "Bharat" today; not Bharat mind you. Do note the difference for Bharat espouses tolerance, respect for individuals, restraint, sacrifice while "Bharat" stands for hypocrisy, arrogance, intolerance, didacticism. Unfortunately, Bharat has been losing to "Bharat" every day. This is not a recent phenomenon. Its been happening since the Late Vedic Age if i remember my school history lessons correctly(respect for women was there in the early Vedic age but that gradually disappeared with time). The Hindu wedding based on Vedic rituals has a part wherein "Kanyadaan" is done by the bride's parents. Is a woman an object to be given away? Clearly, Bharat is almost extinct today, what we have is "Bharat", getting stronger and louder by the day.  This "Bharat" cannot digest the concept of  independent, outgoing, modern girl/woman. What makes matters worse, is the hypocrisy. The very same people who preach "noble values" actually dont imbibe them. Unfortunately, this is true as a society too. If I were to go back to where I started, we as a society are like sharks who pretend to be dolphins and starve ourselves of  the meat( meant for sharks) to keep the act.together. So, when the meat(which is not meant for sharks) is seen and no one is watching, we show our true colours.

So whats the answer? Stop the act. If we don't "Bharat" will win over India. 

Monday, 7 February 2011

Tennis - A beautiful game

Pete Sampras's serve, Roger Federer's forehand, Richard Gasquet's backhand - all three had one thing in common - grace. Infact almost all pros have that poise just before contact. Even Marat Safin's booming serves had that quality; it is that quality that separates the wheat from the chaff. By grace, I mean looking unrushed which means getting into a position early. Federer at his peak looked the most unrushed player on the circuit, yet his court coverage was on par with the best. How? Because he could anticipate the ball so well, his first step gave him the extra time.

It makes sense to do better than to do more.

As an amateur tennis player, I remember our coach shouting at us to make the groundstrokes look effortless. Two years on, i feel it is the single most important thing in tennis. Ofcourse you would need a sound technique to make it look "effortless" whether its a serve, or a groundstroke or a volley.

It really is a beautiful game. Tennis with its subtleties can sound too complicated, I find it fascinating. There is biomechanics intertwined with a feel for the ball. Andy Murray with a "drop shot here, a drop shot there" has an amazing feel for the ball. It is scary the control the pros possess. They can virtually place the ball on a coin.

Its a real shame that tennis in this country is an elitist's game. I mean for proper coaching and membership of a club, you have to pay through your nose. The last few years have seen many academies opening up trying to bridge this demand -supply gap. With greater awareness through media, rising disposable incomes and most importantly increased emphasis on fitness, tennis is only going to grow here. As with just about everything in this country, pricing will be the key.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Indian Cricket: Way Ahead

If you are an Indian you are bound to have views about the Indian cricket team, here are mine -

Tendulkar to stop playing ODIs after 2011 World Cup
Am a staunch Tendulkar fan, but cant see how this wont work for him. With less travelling as a result, he can give rest to his body and focus on Test cricket

Pujara bats at No. 3 and Rahul at 6
Not because Rahul is not playing well but because there has to be a smooth transition or India is going to meet the same fate as Australia where the new guys look lost without the experience of seniors to fall back on.

Sreesanth to play only Test matches
His natural ball is the outswinger inviting the batsmen to drive. In ODIs which are often played on placid pitches the length required is just short of a good length most of the time meaning he has to adjust and bowl a much shorter length than his normal full length. Swing bowlers are rare and they need to be handled with care. Story of one Irfan Pathan. Sound familiar?

Play lesser ODIs and more test matches
BCCI has made enough money to design and send a space shuttle to Jupiter! It is test cricket that will harden your cricketers and find you your future stars. Sachin, Saurav, Rahul, Kumble, VVS, Zaheer, Sehwag - you name them, all of them established themselves in Test cricket first.

Rahul, Sachin, VVS - they must not retire in the same year
The transition has to be smooth. These three heavyweights when they retire they will leave a hole in any side. By having a phased exit, the youngsters can be groomed when one/two of the trio is still around.

Sehwag to bat in the middle order when one of the trio retires
Agreed Viru has been very successful at the top opening the innings, but I believe he would have scored more runs had he batted in the middle order when the shine of the ball has been removed.

Preparing sporty wickets for first class matches
Self explanatory

Saturday, 1 January 2011

2010: The year that was

Ten Memorable moments/events of 2010 (not in order)

  1. Spending new year's eve and the new year with family
  2. 3000+ kms ride from IMT Ghz to Vikramgarh and back(RMX)
  3. Sachin Tendukar's 50th Test ton
  4. Nadal winning at Roland Garros and Wimbledon
  5. Me hitting 25 runs in an over!
  6. A week long sojourn at Bangalore and another one at Hyderabad - two places I love
  7. Bro getting final offer from Bain & Co
  8. Saying no to Infi and IT
  9. The prospect of me having a career in automobiles
  10. Winning the Tennis leg of LoT
PS: Wishing everyone a very happy and successful 2011