Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Leadership is an improvisational art. The game ... keeps changing.
Competition keeps changing. So leaders need to change, to keep
reinventing themselves. Leaders have to be ready to adapt, to move,
to forget yesterday, to forgive, and to structure new roles and new
relationships for themselves, their teams, and their ever-shifting
portfolio of partners.

--Tom Peters

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Onna no hito

Bank of Japan names it's FIRST female Bank Manager in July 2010 . Wow ! It the article was not in the Asahi Shimbun one would assumed it was about Saudi Arabia or some other M.East nation.

Japan clearly has long , long way to go in being more inclusive and supportive of women in the workplace. For a super developed nation their approach to Japanese women is peculiar , perplexing and almost feudal .

Faced with an aging population and declining birth rate - Japanese society and economy needs women to be actively involved . Possibly the need will help whittle away the barriers and attitudes that restrict Japanese women in career choices - especially those who choose to have children.

Jap : Onna no hito English : women

Monday, July 12, 2010


Hindustan Lever should consider a tie up with colleges across India , , . Why ? Since job applicants need something 'extra' to get a job they should help the poor , dark skinned folks who don't seem to get decent jobs despite adequate qualifications simply because of their skin color.

What would millions in this country do if HUL and their ilk did not turn up like the 'fair' knight to rescue them from their 'dark' fate ?

The TV ads of Fair & Lovely (and similar products ) are hilarious when not insulting the intelligence of the viewer. One of the recent ads shows a confident young man in front of an interview panel. The source of his confidence being his 'fair' complexion.

Interestingly advertisers of fitness products have not adopted this route of a fitter person having an edge over other candidates for a job. That would at least make for a healthier India .

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Relationship banking

You realize how far removed advertising is from the reality of some brands when you interact with them.

ICICI Bank's TV ads show a customer visiting the bank for some work . His date of birth is mentioned in the form . The ICICI person notices it and arranges for a muffin with a candle. The customer is visibly touched . And there's a voice over saying something about relationship banking.

If the ad agency did any research they would have figured there's no way they can stretch reality of ICICI's sorry customer relationships to create an ad about ICICI nurturing relationships . So they decided to adopt the fiction route. This hypothesis possibly explains the ad .

In my experience with the bank lately - it seems that have no employees . Let me explain . They have people who identify at best with the department they work with. They have no connect whatsoever with 'ICICI Bank'. "It's a system issue " + " back office has not done the work" +"that is to be done by another dept" are popular reasons for most problems. The bureaucratic way they operate makes Amex look intelligent :)

This is a bank that's ok when everything is functioning routinely . Any deviations - be prepared to spend time , effort and resources in chasing various departments to accomplish the task. In fact , there's an opportunity for someone to launch a 'how to deal with ICICI Bank' service.

Ms Kocchar should worry less about expansion . And worry a lot about where this bank is headed with it's culture.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A bandh of your own

A nation wide bandh has been thrust upon India today. Ostensibly to protest against rising prices. But , really an opportunity for opposition parties to assume few days of spot light. A bandh of this type seldom accomplishes anything . Establishments close - not because they support this form of protest - but because they fear violence. People are against rising prices . But they do not necessarily support protest in this form since :

- it accomplishes very little
- comes at enormous inconvenience and cost

The rising prices affect different sections of society differently . There is a large section on whom the impact of rising prices is very severe - affecting nutrition , education , health care ( even their interests are not served by this 1 day event ). The impact varies at different levels of the socio economic ladder.

Possibly the time has arrived for everyone to do a bandh of their own - ongoingly.

Reduce non-essentials :
Most of us can relate with the ' why did I buy that ? ' feeling at sometime or the other. It could be after a heavy meal at a restaurant or after opening the latest dress you purchased . Take a few mins to list the stuff you purchased that you wished you had refrained from . Carry that list around with you esp when you go shopping :)

An even more radical exercise : visualize that you have a brand new house . What from your existing possessions would you like to put into it ? This exercise can be scaled to any level - kitchen , living room , bed room , study , cupboard..

Reduce intake of processed foods :

Or as Michael Pollan would say 'industrial novelties' . We'll be healthier and richer for having done so.

Grow your own food :

To the extent possible grow herbs , prices , veggies , fruits n your home and community . Besides the cost savings joy it brings is immense . We need to recreate our relationship with food.

Repair / reuse / recycle :

Repair , reuse , recycle the stuff you have. Throwing out stuff that can be repaired adds to the waste and to your cost (of purchasing a new item ).

No , you do not need the mixer with the sole feature of a new blade and fancy shape . Your existing mobile looks great , has more features than you use.

Gratitude outlook :

We notice and mull over stuff that's amiss . In the process ignoring all the things that are so wonderfully right . Family , friends , joy , opportunity , beauty...Gratitude is more about an attitude rather than an occasional response. Thankfulness can enhance our satisfaction with lives in ways that the next consumer product never will.

If this sounds like the recipe for an ascetic life - it's not . It's about reclaiming your life in a consumerist world.

This is not an exhaustive list either . Make your own list . Live it .

Try it .

Friday, July 2, 2010

Amex - call Airtel

Received a letter with the monthly bill from Airtel . The letter is from the COO for Maharashtra giving his email id and that of the Customer Service Incharge for customers to write in if they are not satisfied with the overall experience with Airtel.

This is a HUGE change from the norm of companies keeping senior managers as far removed from the customers as possible.

Call Amex . One will get the impression that their org structure starts with the BPO person who calls and ends with his/her supervisor. For a company that claims to offer 'Platinum' service their systems , culture and approach sometimes makes govt bodies look intelligent and customer friendly in comparison. The lack of coherence in the functioning of Amex can be best understood knowing that they concoct all offerings , procedures in the absence of customer contact and therefore customer understanding.

One hopes that other companies will emulate Airtel is becoming more accessible to customers.