Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Family // Business.. Concept of transparency

Just back from a wonderful family reunion, and after reading a piece by Vineet Nayar, CEO, HCLT, in an HBS journal; here is an article which talks of how the business world needs to draw parallels from inside the personal lives of their inhabitants. There are innumerable ways by which functioning of family can inspire leaders to run business (as already mentioned by Vineet Nayar in his recent book 'Employees first..'), but I'll focus only on a few of my viewpoints.

Families in India have seen different phases of management styles. There was a time when we saw a patriarchal family with the voice of the father being the ultimate answer to every solution. Times changed, and Indian culture got 'westernized', similar to the westernization of Indian business market. Our business houses began to understand the importance of freedom and transparency amongst their employees, drawing parallel to the fact that parents began to give importance to the voices of the children.

Initially there was repulsion to this new 'brand' of family, with cool parents and involvement of every member in important family decisions; but as expected, this brand eventually found success and is currently regarded as 'ideal' by various 'family experts'. Similarly, there was a need in the Indian market to follow suit and create an environment where employees are not just members who follow the orders of their boss, but are integral members of the family created by the business house. This is being done, and 'Employee Satisfaction' is rated highly amongst various companies' major goals.

So the above proves, or at least strengthens, the belief presented by some of the recent 'Management gurus' that study of personal lives can be used to create business leaders. What more?

Business is always supposed to emulate successful models; and coming to the most successful model of a family, let us study a few cases. Take the case of a place in rural India where lack of infrastructure has led to limited knowledge in the younger members of the family and experience is the only criterion of measuring wisdom. Is the 'cool family' model the best fit for such a case? Well, based on my discussions with some of my friends with rural background, the answer is a clear 'No' and hence there is a need to create a median between ancient patriarchal laws and recent concept of freedom and transparency (an ideal case will be that parents exercise control without letting the children feel like 'bound in shackles'). Now taking the example of a middle class metropolitan family where parents try to impose their will and desires on their well educated children, we know that the ideal family model for such a case is very different from the former.

So my point is that we simply can't conclude the level of transparency needed in a firm without taking into account various other factors including customer demographics. So its not necessary that employees need to come before customers, the decision of whether customer or employee comes first should be driven by various other factors. This means a high level of flexibility in the firm is needed and the leader needs to ensure varying levels of transparency based on the performance of employees and the customers/ products involved.

However, whatever the case be, its important to ensure that employees feel that they belong to the company, in the same way as all of us belong to our personal families. The sense of belonging is generated by transparency and independence. If any control needs to be exercised, it should not be direct and hurtful towards freedom.

Controlled Transparency (level varying on various factors of market/ company) --> Disciplined sense of Belonging --> Better work Engagement --> Increased level of Trust within the Business house --> Growth of Ingenuity --> Better Service to Customers --> GROWTH and SUCCESS

So, would conclude by saying that the quotation "Its Business. Its not personal." is now passe, and the new quote should be "Its Business and so its Personal".

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Corporate Blood.. well.. not literally!!

Its been a long time since the last post... more than 6 months. Ignored opportunities like putting ad on this blog because i knew there was going to be a long gap...... Reason for the gap- i am not sure. But i really learned a lot and got another taste of what some call the 'corporate blood'. It was tasty and here i am!

Here I shall share a small part of the interesting things i have been learning. Well, i am sure no one is interested in what i am learning; so read the rest of it as something what i always represent- a naive point of view towards the world of marketing.

Online Marketing
No, not another lecture on how important online marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization 'and' etc. are. Because we all know now that for every small, medium or large enterprise, the reach which this media can provide goes beyond measure. And the lecture is also not on how to use this media in the most effective manner.. one search on google and there are thousands of blog posts and articles on the issue, hundreds of examples on how intelligent internet marketing boosted company's profits. I don't want to add to the list another example, though this one could have stood out amongst the hundreds.

Lesson no 1: Nothing is what you see. Everything is what you analyze.
Twitter seems like a micro-blogging platform where businesses can post regular updates and attract customers to their website. But its not just that. An analysis of Twitter, and we find that may be the above statement is currently valid for customers outside India but not very effective for Indian SMEs. But why can't we create and model T like a Youtube Channel, not a place of regular updates, but a platform of depiction of abilities of the company. A platform where all new inventions, press releases, photographs, videos and other links can be seen. Well. this worked for me, you know why, because people look up to Twitter for business purposes, and not to Facebook or Youtube for the same. So even Twitter can provide more than what they(we) think they are providing.
Similar parallels can be drawn for LinkedIn, which promises much more than eyes perceive..

Lesson on 2: Google is even more intelligent than what they make themselves out to be (and as every online marketer would know they make themselves look extremely intelligent).
Google keeps all its methodologies secret, how it decides organic search listing, how it manages its Adwords. But since Google guys know they are intelligent, they believe in the concept of awarding and rewarding any other intelligent person it knows. Hence they leave a number of hints at various locations, only for the smart ones, to track their methods.. and at the end of the day, its not really tough to manipulate Google towards you (unlike the common opinion) but only if you are smart enough (like me) to be rewarded by this marketing giant.

Lesson no 3: Wikipedia MUST be trusted (I am a Patroller in wiki, so believe me; we don't allow any wrong information to be present on wikipedia for long). And Wikipedia is Not a Marketing Platform, though again, like Google it appreciates and rewards only the intelligent.

Lesson no 4: The rate at which new things are being integrated with Web 2.0, it shouldn't be long before it will need a new name.
It is already in the need of new marketing ideas. Real time Brand Marketing getting integrated with the digital media, has ensured this: there is only one medium needed to do marketing.. only 1 (call it Web 3.0 if you wish)

Competition and Target
Lesson no 5: Getting the best from all your competitors, improvising on the same, and presenting it with adorning words is not only Fair, but also Successful.
Successful because the product actually becomes the best of the best, if the best qualities from all competitors are brought into 1 and the word 'innovation' thrown in.
Fair because I did it; called a number of competitors across the globe posing as customer, gathered the best they were offering and put these ideas in a new product with some more novelty thrown in. And I am still friends with these guys, despite 1 or 2 of them knowing what I did.

Lesson no 6: Sector Based Marketing
Not so commonly used by SMEs yet, this is a must for every company aspiring to reach out to a larger range of target group. Plan campaigns specific to sectors of target groups, and launch them with focus looking local while effects are global.

Other life Lessons
Lesson no 7: Jealousy and Competition is much more in the Corporate world than even in IIT (now this was a shocking learning)
Lesson no 8: Every second of your life can help you learn something new... there is so much knowledge everywhere
And before i start getting philosophical and hence even more boring..
Lesson no 9: Every lesson can't be shared, some experiences go beyond the limit of words.

Footnote: Many things life taught, and many things it will be teaching in moments to come. Hope to see some great achievements in near future... Now, I'm doing.. not (just) dreaming!!