Thursday, May 29, 2008


Terrific improvisation on the traditional umbrella

What's interesting too is that this was conceptualized and created by someone who wasn't remotely related to this product category until inspiration struck . It took 5 years of perseverance to convert that inspiration into reality .

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Service Plus

Stopped at a Cafe Coffee Day outlet . The service was efficient . The tea was refreshing . The environment and ambience provided the time and space for creative ideation . By the time I was ready to leave I was immensely satisfied with the 20 mins I had been there .
On opening the folder in which the bill was placed I found a handwritten note on the bill which effectively said "It was a pleasure to have served you. Thank you ".
Could this experience have been made more perfect ?
As someone who has stayed in hotels across the world I haven't seen any of the hotels or restaurants write a personalised message .
In general the quality of most products has improved . An upward movement enabled by technology . This can be said of services too where technology enables a certain quality of experience . Technology can be easily bought quickly levelling the advantages (excluding cases of breakthrough tech / proprietary tech which are limited . Increasingly the advantages of such tech tend to be for a limited time span) . Yet in the zeal to expand their market share companies focus all their energies on improving the quality of their products and services only . Some of it spent on personalised and creative communication with customers will help create delighted evangelists..and a business that survives and thrives in turbulent times .

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Values create value

Interesting presentation by Yves Behar on Design posted on TED .

Yves makes a important point that the values we put into the projects bring the value...and values can change the work we do , the companies we work with and eventually the world.

Signs of an inflationary age

Thought provoking article by Sumita Kale in MINT .

Big service from small retail

Bought a cosmetic product from a local store in Mumbai . When I reached home and removed the shrink packaging and opened the bottle I found something near the lid . The following day I went back to the store and showed it to the store owner . He took it back and gave me a refund since he did not have another product in the size I wanted . All of this happened in a matter of minutes . No negotiation. I did not even have the bill .
If the purchase had been made at a fancy department store this would have been a tiresome interaction with no guarantee on whether the store would be willing to take it back .
We see this in our business as well . The smaller , entrepreneurial suppliers tend to be very responsive on service . The larger organisations run around in circles trying to accomplish basic things . Their ability to handle deviations or unusual situations is quite poor .
There's a lot of debate in India on big retail v/s small retail and the need to protect small retailers. If small retailers were to diminish in number the greatest loss will be that of the consumer.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Midas Tongue

Watched an episode of a Hindi comedy serial . One of the characters reads a chant . And gets a power whereby whatever he says comes true . At first he is sceptical but as he sees irrefutable (comic) evidence of it he gets alarmed and tries to undo the charm . Prior to the power he could thoughtlessly say whatever he felt like . Post the power he had to be careful about the words he used . Habits die hard . He wants very much to revert to his earlier way of life where he can use words without having to think too much about them. And eventually he succeeds .
If we experience this power what words (and thoughts ) would we choose ?
*we all have this power . Just that we choose not to recognise it or erode it or worse - complain about our life when in fact we are the creator of most (if not all ) of it.

Pangea Day

Pangea Day - A powerful manifestation of the power of an idea in bringing together the citizens of the Pale Blue Dot aka Planet Earth a little closer to each other .
A powerful reminder too of the fact that when we set aside assumptions of what is possible we can accomplish more than we ever imagined .
For those who haven't been a part of Pangea Day live pl do see Jehane Noujaim's acceptance speech while accepting the TED prize in 2006 and outlining her wish for Pangea Day . And then visit the Pangea website to see about the event and watch some of the documentaries . Finally channelise the inspiration into action everyday in making the pale blue dot a kinder , happier , loving place.

Pale Blue Dot

This excerpt from A Pale Blue Dot was inspired by an image taken, at Sagan's suggestion, by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990. As the spacecraft left our planetary neighborhood for the fringes of the solar system, engineers turned it around for one last look at its home planet. Voyager 1 was about 6.4 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away, and approximately 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane, when it captured this portrait of our world. Caught in the center of scattered light rays (a result of taking the picture so close to the Sun), Earth appears as a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size.
Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
-- Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Clothing that fits

Over the week-end I happened to see 20 mins of an old Hindi movie playing on one of the channels . The 2 good guys in it embark on a rescue mission to save the heroine .  They reach the bad guy's's den , knock-out 2 guards and wear their uniforms . The new clothes fit the good guys perfectly . That's when the awareness dawns that 'this is a movie' . A fantasy world where one can knock out an absolute stranger and the stranger's clothes fit like a second skin . In the real world consumers go from store to store in elusive search of clothes that have a decent fit .

Western wear for women in India is particularly challenging in this regard . Very few brands have managed to understand the need for and the nuances of a good fit . Most of the brands seem to believe that the target consumers resemble the models in their ads . 'Who is the target consumer for this range ? ' is a question that invariably echoes in visits to most women's wear stores that retail formal (western) wear in India . If the color and design look good then fit is often unacceptable and vice-versa . 

The brand's still evolving understanding of the consumer body types faces the additional challenge that in a country like India body structures vary from region to region . Throw in the factor of age-groups , life-style , socio-economic segments and the result is a situation that makes solving the global climate change more doable .

The silver lining to this is that the female consumer in India (endeavouring to buy western wear) can save a lot of money which would otherwise have been spent on clothing . Banks - pl note this phenomenon and target women consumers with investment plans .

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Business as a force in transforming the world

Terrific presentation by Hector Ruiz - CEO of AMD . Born an raised in a small Mexican village the story of Hector Ruiz journey to becoming the CEO of a large corporation like AMD is in itself an inspiration .

AMD has an initiative 50x15 . They aim to bring internet access to 50% of the world's population by 2015 . To meet this lofty goal they partner with various companies , organizations , local and state governments . This is not altruism . It's woven into the core of their business of microprocessors and computer related products .
In the presentation Hector mentions a case where the engineers working on the 1 laptop per child project had to ensure a long battery life. A child is (in many parts of the world ) in school for 6-8 hours . So they wanted to create a battery that would last at least 10 hours . Finally the engineers succeeded in creating a battery that would last for 15 hours .
Besides the technical skills that a company like AMD brings to such an initiative they would undoubtedly use their management talent to build systems , processes , partnerships to bring diverse resources ,expertise and momentum to the initiative . Which ultimately manifests as results and pace of progress .
When an efficient business applies its expertise to issues in which it has a stake it can make a far greater impact on social good than any government or most philanthropic organizations .

Friday, May 2, 2008

A challenge worthy of our best efforts

A thought provoking , action inspiring , passionate presentation by Al Gore .

Saving the planet - a challenge surely worthy of our best efforts . Gore makes an important point when he urges viewers not to approach the challenge with a sense of depair . But with a sense of joy and profound gratitude .

African proverb...If you want to go quickly - go alone .If you want to go far - go together.
We have to go far quickly .