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Asses in Corporateland

23 Mar

“My company does not respect performance”
“That guy got such an underserving promotion”
“Woh chaat chaat kar….”
“Let’s see how far he goes without talent and through favoritism”
“So fucking unfair”

Today morning I was driving to office with a colleague and the conversation veered towards the above mentioned sentiment. He started sharing with me his corporate sob story of how he has worked so hard and for so many years yet another guy who is so very underserving is rising up and the usual associated shit, which I am sure you can easily hear in your head. We all in our course of work life have said and heard these refrains and laments in the past.

How can people be so dumb?

What do they think corporate world is?

Some fucking NGO??

Ram Rajya??

Some idealistic society???

For some reason people tend to consider the corporate world to be a perfect society. There are two mistakes in it, one is to think it has a parallel with the society and it is a miniature of the outside world they live in, the so called society.

I don’t have much of patience on this issue and will put my views succinctly and please don’t think the argument is a censure of the capitalism in any manner. And just my views.

Three points-

1. It is not a mirror of the society. It has rules which are independent of the society justice system. Do not mistake it as a perfect world where all things that happen are just and right.

2. The world does not operate as a barter system in its relation with its customers. It’s only smoke and mirror. In a way it is closer to the crime and criminal world in construct. The things it offers it tries to extract a price as high as possible in comparison to its actual cost of manufacturing. It in a way is a con game. And the ones that bluff the best are the winners. It requires a different kind of mindset to succeed, if I can think of an appropriate world, it will illusion.

3. If illusion is the reality of the corporate world outside the same will also hold true inside. The guys who can create the best illusions inside will succeed. What goes outside must happen inside. And it is best for the organization to succeed. It needs such people only. It doesn’t need honest, hardworking, committed people; it needs con artists who know their trade the best because dear friend, that is the business.

So stop cribbing and go find the best artist in the trade and become his or her apprentice if you have desire and ambition to succeed in this parallel, alternate reality universe.

And this argument is a con trick.

I dare you to find the flaw.

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Just an opinion

28 Dec

If you have kids or have interacted with kids, they have a very interesting facet of knowing everything. Like my daughter came to me the other day and said that she doesn’t have to go to school now, so I asked her why that is? And she said that she knows everything and started reciting all the alphabets and numbers that she knew. And also challenged me to take her test.

Now compare this with the attitude or reality of truly knowledgeable, you can take any field but for the argument let’s take scientists. Now science probably is the epitome of human curiosity and the specialist aspect of this arcane knowledge challenges the depth of human spirit. It in its own way is a combination of imagination, observation, experimentation and creation. Now if you interact with people from this field and I was lucky enough to study under some of the best brains during my college days, the interesting aspect of their personality is their humility and acknowledgement of their ignorance. The deeper they go in their studies they realize the more they need to learn and know. This understanding makes them always open to other ideas, different opinions and views contradictory to their beliefs.

Now the same is true in possibly every other field.

The truly curious always believe that there is so much to know and so much to learn and their growth is a product of them staying students all their life.

So the contrast that is being established is the child belief and the adult truths.

Now that serious aspect and background of the post has been established, now we jump to the buffoonery part of this post, which takes leaf from the above established corollary.

Now against this let’s now contrast the corporate world. As one climbs the corporate ladder, it makes people regress to being kids rather than adults. They start believing that their opinions, which end of the day are nothing but opinions as superior to that of the people who are at lower designations. They assume a title is equivalent to knowledge. Though it is true that it is through performance (in an ideal world) one grows to higher positions but at each level they also get exposed to new realities of business. But the knowledge that is required to perform at each level is not like a data transfer, you hook in your brain to your laptop and now you are ready for the role.

An organization end of the day is like a brain, where different knowledge is stored at various points and each has to work in a synchronized manner to have the completeness of knowledge. As I read the best description of how brain works through the analogy of an orchestra.

“Let’s look at the brain as an orchestra. In an orchestra, you have different musical sections. There is a percussion section, a string section, a woodwind section, and so on. Each has its own job to do and must work closely with the other sections. When playing music, each section waits for the conductor. The conductor raises a baton and all the members of the orchestra begin playing at the same time playing on the same note. If the drum section hasn’t been practicing, they don’t play as well as the rest of the orchestra. The overall sound of the music seems “off” or plays poorly at certain times. This is a better model of how the brain works. We used to think of the brain as a big computer, but it’s really like millions of little computers all working together.”
(Source: http://www.tbiguide.com/howbrainworks.html)

The same is also true for organizations; they are a large brain with knowledge stored with the individuals working across the organization and unless they don’t function as complete units they are bound for failure.
But the true reason for failure is certain individuals who operate as independent nodes that control the overall system. As we have the orchestra analogy, the analogy for this system can be understood from cricket. The bowler cannot operate as an individual player, he needs to understand the overall field setting, the situation of the game, but if he bowls by what he believes is right, he will make the whole team fail.
Individuals as they grow must open up to ideas beyond their beliefs and develop an ability to process and assimilate knowledge and not just impart opinions.

Opinions, dear friends, are not knowledge.

Mind your business, as many would say, so I would finish here.

Evolution of low cost airlines

1 Jun

Demand Creation to Demand Creation is the journey of a low cost airline

Step 1: Airline is the news (Creates Demand through existence)

Step 2: Fares are the news (creates demand by giving choice)

Step 3: Need match is the news (creates demand by giving reason)

Step 4: Destination is the news (creates demand by building need)

Failure is caused by not graduating to the next step with time. 

Diamonds, gold and a little silver – Part 1

14 Jan

“Mirror, Mirror on the wall
Who is the most beautiful of them all?”
Of course, you my lady.

Every fashion, beauty, cosmetic brand has been giving this answer to the consumer since eternity.

Actually all these brands go a step further – they promise beauty. No ordinary beauty – transcendent beauty.

Is anything wrong with this?

No, not at all.

To be noticed, to be attractive, to stand out is the reason we dress up, invest in gold, diamonds, designer clothes and other fashion products.

Colored hair, torn jeans, ear-rings, bald look nothing but renditions of the same need.

All these are in a way are substitutes for success – I’m better than you. I’m special.

Humans are driven in their effort to be exceptional, brilliant, extraordinary.

The leader of the pack – Everyone wants to be special.

These products primarily address this innate need of the humans and beauty is an expression of this need.

Beauty makes you special. Makes you more than what you are or in a human logic shows your true worth – bow you minions to my glowing personality.

Now if you translate this logic into communication for say a jewelry brand, we will find advertising with beautiful women, products proclaiming their uniqueness, intricate designs.

To a detour here, unique is also an expression of beauty. Only unique will make you stand apart from the herd.

In creative expression terms all communication for beauty and jewelry brand stems from – all eyes upon you (person or the product).

But hey, here is my question, if such brands are addressing this special need, can communication for all these brands be clone of each other?

Another no will not be out of order here.

But that is all what we see… beautiful women, focus on designs, drawing attention to uniqueness –in various creative ways but always in the same form.

Now if a new jewelry brand has to enter this industry, how should it convey its differentiator?

Conventional wisdom will take the new brand to the same playing space. It will create footprints in a field already made dirty by many.

Is there a way in which the brand can differentiate itself without breaking away from the core reason for existence?

For this let’s move back and re-look at what is happening there.

Most of the brands have looked at beauty in a uni-dimensional way and focused on the softer aspects of the term – Mushiness, softness, love, longing, yearning.

But enter the deep recesses of your soul, the need does not stem from these feelings.
The true DNA of beauty is based on a baser human – DOMINATION.

DOMINATION
POWER
CONTROL
LUST

Beauty must give you CONTROL. Control over the emotions of others.

A new truth.

A new reality.

To be continued…..

Social Trends 1: The changing “Father – Child” relationship

10 Jan

One social change which probably will find resonance with lots of people with or around young kids is the changed ‘father-child’ dynamics.

Today we find fathers spending more time with their kids and being concerned about their upbringing on a day to day basis.

This is a phenomenon of the recent years, as earlier, at least during my growing up years (and as corroborated by others in my social group) fathers were less involved with their kids and largely limited their roles to the providers of the family. This is not to take away the huge influence they had as role models and custodians of the family values.

The question that begs to be answered is what brought this change?

One can hazard multiple guesses for the same.

One acceptable theory could emanate from the recent trend of ‘metro-sexual’ behavior expected from the men. The society is creating an extraneous pressure and defining acceptable behavior. This in turn gets internalized by men at a micro-level leading to changed behavior and attitude towards certain facets of life. After all what is ‘metro-sexual’ but to exhibit certain female traits (with family as the fulcrum of this definition).

We can approach this from another direction – the nuclear family and working moms. In this case it is not a question of intent but of compulsion. If this was true, there is no change in the desired attitude but the manifestation can be seen in behavior. But this assumption will be bear out on all the parameters.

But in my opinion the reason for the same is different. And there has not been in any change in the attitude. Fathers of the previous years and the fathers today have a similar psychological make-up, what has changed are the social dynamics. And the change we are experiencing today has a direct correlation with the social pressures and expectations.
The fathers measure their success (as a parent) with the success of their children. They largely limit their role to ensuring that the kids are able to realize their potential in the outside world. Twenty-thirty years back (maybe much less) it meant ensuring that they are able to provide the best facilities and amenities. And this would ensure success. The competition probably was much less severe and the definition of success – the bar – was pegged much lower. Doctor, engineer, government official.

Today the parameters of success have changed. And the parents of today find themselves struggling in the new world. The face the ignominy of the unknown every day. Uncertain future. Missed Megabucks. They crave success which was fiefdom of the only the born rich for themselves. But for the majority the opportunity probably is already missed (lack of training, talent, ambition, fear).

To ensure the success of the kids (mega success or the new acceptable benchmarks and standards of success) fathers no longer can play passive roles. They need to actively train their children for the success that they missed.

The responsibility that fathers always believed has remained unmoved only the manifestation & expression has changed.

Why Mountian Dew will never do well in India

10 Jan

My views on the current position of Mountain Dew in the category.

Let’s first look at the current TG profile.

At the face it is youth which is further filtered basis the attitude. When addressing the youth the common platform that is taken is “different” but the Mountain Dew youth is the “on the edge different”. If one had to take a typical example if the normal “different youth” would be bunking the class to showcase his freedom, the Mountain Dew youth would be having fun while staying in the class. Everything about him would be an expression of a strong individuality and self-expression, would read Chuck Palanuik rather than Shantaram, would have seen “Old Boy” rather than “Zinda”. Unknown/ Obscure is more exciting than the popular/ known.

The issues

According to me the product faces three issues-

1. A non-cola normally is a substitute drink and not the primary choice. So a category which per se is not very large (in comparative terms), we have a product which is a sub-set of the category and targeted at a segment which in itself is an extremely smaller sub-set of the total market.

2. If one looks at the category the consumer makes a choice over something – I prefer this over that – “Identifiable enemies”. Pepsi vs Coke, Mirinda vs Fanta. So at a product level the “identifiable enemy” should be “Sprite” but for Mountain Dew the enemy is basis the attitudinal point of reference – “Thums Up. So the question that arises – Is it a good anti-point of reference? Maybe not. Thums Up is able to deliver on the attitude basis a very different taste in the category – strong/masculine – and automatically gets clubbed in the parent segment of colas. Though the communication of Mountain Dew has been able to capture the consumer attitude it has not given any clear cues on the product difference.

3. The third key issue is occasion/location of consumption. The non-colas have defined very clear occasion/location situation. Limca/Sprite for thirst, Mirinda/Fanta for taste. “Mountain Dew” the name suggests freshness and the communication cues outdoor but the extreme nature of the communication does not make that easy link with either as the attitude overshadows both. And this leads no reminder for consumption.

The way forward

We will go ahead with the assumption that we are not looking at re-positioning the brand. And the opportunities need to be identified within the existing realities.

Youth – This segment is the high consumption segment, so largely the most attractive segment. If we can make with the Mountain Dew a everyday part of the repertoire of CSD there can be a potential for growth.

a) Associate location/occasion with attitude rather than a physical rendition.

b) Activity seekers – The most visible trend today is the need to be associated with “activity” away from the sedentary fun. People are no longer looking at normal regular modes of enjoyment they are rather seeking something new, something exciting. One can plug in the product with everyday possible but unique activities.

c) Cross-category cues – Maybe I’m going berserk here – direct association with certain brands in similar domain (in attitude or uniqueness) can be used for creating that unique identity of Mountain Dew user. Nike wearers Just Do the Dew.

Overall it is critical that the attitude is owned and rendered into a form which would act is a reminder for consumption.