Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2017

After the 2008 economic meltdown, the management world has discovered that CEOs need to follow not only the Business Compass but also a Moral Compass to steer the enterprises they happen to run. Improving one’s Spiritual Quotient is now a sheer business necessity, and shall be more so in the decades to come.

It is here that Indian scriptures and sages provide a ready template for managers of all sizes and shapes.

The bookSurviving in the Corporate Jungle’ covers some lessons from the following:

-Ramayana

-Mahabharata

-Bhagavad-Gita

-Thirukkural

-Chanakya Neeti

-Sri Aurobindo

Managers with a Western Mind and an Eastern Heart

The success of the likes of Satya Nadella (currently the CEO of Microsoft) and Sundar Pichai (currently the CEO of Google Inc) goes on to show the growing importance of managers who are not only exposed to the Western models of management but also steeped in Eastern wisdom in the realm of management.


Read Full Post »

Recently, while on a trip to Switzerland, yours truly had the opportunity of calling upon Mr. José Manuel Castro Santiago, Minister – Counsellor at the Embassy of Portugal in Bern.

Despite his busy schedule, he was kind enough to grant an audience to yours truly, who wished to present to him a copy of his book ‘Como Sobreviver Na Selva Empresarial’.

It happened to be a day when the soaring day temperature had left denizens of Berne gasping for breath and scurrying for cover. To match the heat outside, the Embassy of Portugal in Switzerland offered a degree of bonhomie and warmth, much like the genial and affable disposition of the people of Portugal.

An informal meeting took place in his tastefully done up office. He was genial, graceful and dignified. The frankness with which he spoke and the warmth he exuded was typical of the people of character, resource and rich culture he represents.

It transpired that he had also had a stint in India. He spoke warmly of his positive feel about the country. He touched upon its rich ancient culture and the diversity of its citizens. Yet another emerging economy he had been posted to in the past was that of Brazil.

He mentioned that he has himself authored and published a book which captures his experiences in a long and successful career. Yours truly expressed a wish that some kindly publisher might bring it out in English as well, so the wisdom contained therein may get shared more widely.

He was happy to know that yours truly had been associated with the Tata group for close to a decade, that too in the field of leather footwear and components. The courtesy extended to an ordinary soul from an emerging economy like India was impeccable.

Diplomats represent all that their land is and aspires to be. Much like Ms. Clara Nunes dos Santos, the Ambassador of Portugal to Norway (whom yours truly had the opportunity to meet recently), Mr. José Manuel Castro Santiago is also no exception. One has no doubt that both of them handle managerial challenges coming their way with characteristic aplomb.

One wishes them and their country a great innings in the days to come.

(Notes:

This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016, courtesy Liberty Seguros and Vida Economica.

The English version of the book, entitled ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, was released recently.

Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/a-meeting-with-the-ambassador-of-portugal-in-norway)

 

Read Full Post »

Those who practice as physicians in our society are increasingly looked upon with some suspicion. Dig a little deeper and one is apt to find that they are more to be pitied than to be censured.

A physician is denied the fundamental right to some solitude. Even at a social gathering, she is likely to be surrounded by wannabe patients who are keen to seek her impromptu advice as to the latest affliction the party of the other part has heard about and imagines oneself to be suffering from the same.

Close relatives are not too considerate either. A distant relative could call late at night, skillfully steering the conversation from children’s career prospects to the current bout of migraine she happens to be suffering from. If anyone in the circle of friends or relatives happens to be admitted to a hospital, the physician ends up spending sleepless nights, adroitly juggling her official commitments and personal relations, often messing up both.

Latest advancements in medicine keep them on their toes. So does the competition from various streams of medicine, such as Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and many other local variants of each of these streams. Superstitions, local beliefs, religion, social norms are but some of the constraints which need to be kept in mind. Legal tangles, such as those apply to road accident cases, keep them on the defensive.

In advanced countries, they face tough customer care regulations. In emerging economies like India, they suffer humiliation – occasionally violent – at the hands of irate relatives and well-wishers if the latter perceive the medical service provided to their kith and kin to be deficient.

Return on Investment considerations

To be a mere graduate in any discipline of medicine does not amount to much these days. Even to become a graduate, the hapless souls have to experience at least five and a half years of the tyranny of the classroom, with the trauma of a stint as an intern thrown in for good measure.

Monetary rewards obviously vary depending upon their choice of a career. They could choose to be in their own private practice, or join a private sector outfit, or become a part of the public health delivery mechanism.

If public spending on health infrastructure is woefully inadequate, private players end up playing an important role in the medical education scenario. Many aspiring physicians opt for a private sector skill provider. As a consequence, hassled parents end up shelling out sackfuls of the green stuff. Return on Investment considerations then determine the choice of their career.

The blue-eyed ones

The resourceful ones set up their own practice. If the going is good, some of them end up laughing all the way to the bank, what with hefty commissions coming in from such allied medical service providers as marketeers of branded medicines and diagnostic clinics.

Those who happen to be associated with five-star private sector health facilities have tough business targets to meet. This is not to say that patient care necessarily gets compromised, but an overdose of medical investigations surely leaves the patient and her family deprived of mental peace and some hard-earned green stuff.

When the costliest of medicines and gadgets get recommended by physicians, stakeholders of pharmaceutical companies and those in the field of medical equipment laugh all the way to the bank. Admittedly, quite a lot of money gets pumped into research and development, but it is open to debate as to how much profit could be considered rational and socially justified.

Much like the marketing honchos in the private sector who bring in business and resultant moolah, such physicians happen to be the blue-eyed boys of any entity which boasts of being a corporate facility.

The grey eyed ones

Physicians who are part of the government healthcare delivery system and happen to be conscientious by nature are often overloaded with work. Monetary rewards are often not commensurate with the efforts being put in. The eyes of a majority of them would be a dull grey, revealing a soul which is tormented and has given up hope.

Besides having to publish research papers in peer-reviewed journals and making presentations at medical seminars, students have to be guided, examinations have to be conducted and internal meetings need to be attended. Administrative chores cannot be ignored.

Above all, routine patient care cannot be made to suffer. Patients, whether of the ‘in’ or the ‘out’ kind, descend in droves, all eager to jump the queue and catch the attention of the physician. The plight of those in most of the emerging economies is most distressing because the per capita availability of physicians leaves much to be desired.

Of Attitude and Inner Resilience

Much depends on the attitude of a patient. One could come across persons with a cheerful disposition headed for their second open heart surgery, relishing a deep-fried item with much glee. One could also run into those who worry endlessly over such transient ailments as a bout of common cold or sinusitis.

Physicians obviously deal with a baffling variety of patients with much finesse and aplomb. Nerves of chilled steel get deployed. A sense of detachment pervades their handling of a patient. Their inner resilience deserves to be applauded.

With such fine qualities of head and heart, one can merely admire the quality of their work which keeps upholding the reputation of their profession. The Hippocratic Oath might appear to be relegated to the background, but is surely alive and kicking.

In many streams of alternative medicine, the patient is taken as a composite whole and treated holistically. The inner resilience of a patient is accorded a higher weightage. Allopathy, the mainstay of masses in the times we live in, does it the other way round, where each organ is looked at and treated separately. In mathematical parlance, alternative streams could be likened to Integral Calculus, whereas allopathy could be likened to Differential Calculus.

Shoring up one’s inner resilience

There are indeed ways for patients to improve one’s inner resilience, so as to be able to handle the harsh slings and arrows of Fate in a more positive manner. A deeper inner connection helps. To achieve the same, regular introspection and meditation helps.

As the Mother has said, the right approach would be to simply disallow negative thoughts to gain a foothold in one’s psychical system. Patients obviously need loads of patience to be able to put this advice in practice!

(Note: Inputs from Dr. Shivani Salil Dr. Shruti Bhatia are gratefully acknowledged.)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/of-patient-satisfaction-quotient-motivation-and-kinds-of-patients)

Read Full Post »

Leaders

Management can be learnt; leadership is inborn. The good news is that in most cases, leadership styles trickle down the organization and get copied. This spawns leaders in the same genre and also improves behavioural consistency across the entire set up.

Successful leaders have several outstanding traits. Their intuitive faculties are well developed. They do not say one thing and do another. They handle tough tasks themselves. They take responsibility for their failures, often shielding their team mates. They do not have henchmen to execute their dirty plans so their own hands look clean. They put everyone on the same pedestal. They never encourage yes-men. They always encourage no-men to speak up.

CEOs who rank high not only on their Intelligence Quotient and Emotional Quotient but also on their Spiritual Quotient go on to make super leaders. Their concern for business ethics is as high as their concern for business results.

Lao-Tzu, a Chinese philosopher, said ‘To lead the people, walk behind them’.

(Excerpt from my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, the English version of which was released recently. The Portuguese version of the excerpt follows.)

LÍDERES

A gestão pode ser aprendida; a liderança é inata. A boa notícia é que, na maioria dos casos, os estilos de liderança encontram-
se espalhados pela organização e são replicados, o que produz líderes do mesmo tipo, melhorando ao mesmo tempo a consistência comportamental ao longo da cadeia hierárquica.

Os líderes de sucesso têm em comum vários traços que se destacam. As suas faculdades intuitivas estão bem desenvolvi as. Não dizem uma coisa e fazem outra. Enfrentam eles próprios as tarefas difíceis. Assumem a responsabilidade pelos seus fracassos, muitas vezes, protegendo os seus colaboradores.

Não recorrem a capangas para executar os seus planos sujos e parecer, assim, que têm as mãos limpas. Põem todos no mesmo pedestal. Nunca incentivam os “lambe-botas”. Incentivam sempre os “discordantes” a falarem.

Lao-Tzu, um filósofo chinês, disse: “Para liderar as pessoas, ande atrás delas”.

(This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016.)

Read Full Post »

Be it Blandings Castle or Totleigh Towers, summer is eternal and the sun beams benevolently across the books of Mr Wodehouse. And Mr Ashok Bhatia, who has spent much of his 60-odd years curling up in bed with the works of the great humourist, hails from a land where the sun-shine is as eternal, although not quite so benevolent. It is more prone to broil the citizens till they totter on the brink of the loony-bin.

In Amsterdam, however, even as the calendar assured that it was nearing the end of April, the weather was having a cold hearty cackle at the expense of misguided tourists shivering in their light jackets. Thus, the erstwhile management consultant and his wife turned up at Restaurant Szmulewicz wrapped from head to toe under many, many layers of wool, fleece and polyester.

Ashok is done with navigating the highways of the corporate world. He now spends his time with NGOs in the rather diverse and distinct disciplines of Management and Spirituality. That is provided he can tear himself away from his lifelong perusal of the antics of Jeeves, Ukridge, Lord Emsworth and the rest of them. He has recently authored a book himself, which takes a humorous look at the principles of management and, as a corollary, mismanagement. But perhaps he is happiest when adding thoughts and reflections to his blog, which, needless to say, is dominated by PG Wodehouse.

Mrs Bhatia has not really been an avid Wodehouse reader herself. But matrimony comes with associative afflictions. She is not immune to the moments when her husband is spotted variously chuckling, guffawing and, to use a modern illusion, rolling on the floor with laughter. Investigations carried out at these junctures do keep popping up Wodehousean passages as chief suspects. And she excels at that profound quality found in the better or worse halves of devoted readers, without which the very pursuit of reading would be rendered impossible – indulgence. She indulges Ashok as he reads, and tolerates him even as he sometimes reads aloud to her. It was this sterling indulgence that had brought her to Szmulewicz, withstanding the association of not only her husband but three more Wodehouseans.

Josepha Olsthoorn and Wil Brouwers had turned up before one could even say ‘Bring on the Girls’, charming and hospitable, eager to spread sweetness and light. And Arun too had been allowed in the restaurant … although as he entered there had been a distinct sound of a very old sheep clearing its throat in the southern alps, followed by the words, “Long hair, sir, in my opinion, is dangerous.”

Thus glasses were clinked, old Plum was toasted, Empress was remembered, Ukridge was discussed. It grew louder and funnier by the minute, an evening filled with humour and hapjes, Galahad and gezelligheid.

In short, it was a perfect what’s-its-name of the thingummy and the thing-um-a-bob of the what d’you-call-it.

(The aforesaid write-up, whipped up by Arunabha Sengupta, appeared in ‘Nothing Serious‘, the magazine unleashed upon its members by the Dutch Wodehouse Society at regular intervals.

Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and freelance sports journalist based in Amsterdam. He also has a past in the software industry that still gives him the jitters. Apart from being a Wodehousean, he is also a Holmesian and is the author of the pastiche ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Birth of The Ashes.’

Permission to reproduce this piece, if piece is indeed the word one wants, is gratefully acknowledged.)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/a-drones-club-meeting-in-amsterdam)

Read Full Post »

Managements are well known for their propensity to give priority to business targets, and to hell with all the systems, controls, and procedures! So, go in for systems which are simple and can be operated by idiots. The acid test to be applied to check most systems would be KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

Auditors will keep coming up with new Standard Operating Procedures. Before rolling those out, a manager would do well to first go in for a pilot run, debug the process, and only then formalize it. This would eliminate the chances of a smart aleck junior coming up with innovative shortcuts to brow beat the system!

(Excerpt from my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, the English version of which was released recently. The Portuguese version of the excerpt follows.)

 

BEIJE COM FREQUÊNCIA

Os executivos são conhecidos pela sua propensão para dar prioridade aos objetivos do negócio, e que se lixem os sistemas, os controlos e os procedimentos! Por isso, opte por sistemas que sejam simples e possam ser seguidos por idiotas. O ‘teste do algodão’ a aplicar à maioria dos sistemas é o KISS (beijo, em inglês, de “Keep It Simple, Stupid” – Simplifica, Palerma).

Os auditores irão propor sempre novas normas de procedimentos operacionais. Antes de as implementar, o melhor que um executivo tem a fazer é começar por fazer um teste-piloto, depurar o processo e só então formalizálas, eliminando, assim, as possibilidades de um qualquer subordinado espertinho inventar formas sub-reptícias de dar a volta ao sistema!

(This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016.)

Read Full Post »

Those who happen to know me personally are often deceived by my polite manners. They often wonder as to why I never opted for a diplomatic career.

Allow me to set the record straight. P G Wodehouse played some role in indicating that my Guardian Angels had planned my life much unlike that of Eustace Mulliner, who was a part of the British Embassy in Switzerland.

Jeeves’ psychology-of-an-individual factor has also led me to believe that the diplomatic corps on this planet are better off without me.

My limited intuitive faculties also tell me that life as a career diplomat could not be as glamorous and hunky dory as it might appear to be from the outside of an embassy building.

The Eustace Mulliner saga

Wodehouse fans might recall that the splendid idea of Eustace Mulliner joining the British Embassy in Switzerland was dangled before him by his godfather, Lord Knubble of Knopp. Eustace had stoutly refused to avail himself of the offer.

However, things turned out differently when he was caught misbehaving with Francis, a feline creature which was a favourite of his Aunt Georgina. At the time, two more characters had popped up, taking a jaundiced view of the proceedings. His obduracy evaporated. He decided that Switzerland was a safer country to be in.

Unlike Eustace Mulliner, my Guardian Angels had planned my life along different lines.

One, I never fancied maintaining a ‘Open House’ for pets of all kinds.

Two, Fate never bestowed upon me a girl friend, that too someone like Marcella Tyrrwhitt, who would take the risk of entrusting her favourite Peke and her canary to me while going off to Paris on a brief sojourn.

Three, I have never had the privilege of having a wealthy aunt who might have taken offence at my throwing cucumber sandwiches at her cat.

Four, never have I come across an ardent animal lover like Orlando Wotherspoon, the perennial Vice President of the Dumb Chumbs’ League, who would threaten to thrash me within an inch of my life.

Nor have I had the privilege of coming across a girl friend who had Spanish blood in her; someone who would have liked to whack me with the heaviest parasol she could lay her hands on, the provocation being her discovery that a favourite Peke of hers had been gifted by me to one Beatrice Watterson.Those who have followed the ruminations of Mr Mulliner (Mulliner Nights, Open House) would recall that Eustace, upon joining the British Embassy in Switzerland, had stuck to his duties with unremitting energy.

‘So much so that, he had been awarded the Order of the Crimson Edelweiss, Third Class, with crossed cuckoo-clocks, carrying with it the right to yodel in the presence of the Vice-President.’

One might miss the rights to yodel in the presence of the high and mighty, but life has been kind to me in so many other ways.

The psychology of the individual

Jeeves would have surely approved of my keeping away from a diplomatic career. I am certain that several diplomatic disasters and gaffes have thus been avoided, saving our planet from a more uncertain future. August bodies such as the United Nations surely breathe easier.

The simpleton that I am, a career in diplomacy would have tested my reserves of patience to the hilt. Putting on a plastic smile, when necessary, would have tried my nerves no end. A Bollywood producer, had he cast me as a lead actor for one of his inane movies, would have cried all the way to his bank. Having to make inane conversations with perfect strangers on topics which are alien to the restricted domain of my knowledge would have left my soul in perennial torment.

To a lay person, the life of a career diplomat might sound flashy and exciting. Rubbing shoulders with world leaders. Travelling to exotic locales. Devouring Anatole-ish spreads. Attending conferences and banquets. Making clever speeches which get received with a thunderous applause and, possibly, even a standing ovation.

But it is not too difficult to surmise the harsh realities of a diplomatic life. These pose many challenges of a managerial kind.

Of diplomats and their career blues

Maintaining cordial international relations in our turbulent times would be no mean task. The dignity and the image of the home country needs to be upheld. Culture, heritage and values need to be showcased. Cultural nuances of the land where they happen to be posted to need to be understood and rigorously followed.

Besides negotiating and facilitating treaties, opportunities for trade promotion and closer collaboration have to be exploited to the hilt. An eye has to be kept open for business opportunities between the two countries. Unique strengths of the home country have to be showcased. Stakeholders of diverse hues, shapes, sizes and temperaments have to be kept in a positive frame of mind. Political masters have to be kept in good humour. Business barons snapping at their heels have to be kept at bay.

Meetings, conferences and banquets have to be attended. Impeccable sartorial standards have to be maintained, showcasing their home country while keeping the local sensibilities in mind. Consular services have to be dished out with courtesy, transparency and efficiency.

Morale of the staff has to be upheld at all times. Resistance to change needs to be overcome. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has to be understood and applied in all cases. Career priorities invariably take precedence over personal matters.

The harsh slings and arrows of fate do not stop with such mighty challenges. Once in a blue moon, some odd requests have to be granted. Interviews by a bunch of giggly communication students may need to be granted. Inquisitive media journalists desperately searching for some exciting sound bites may have to be tolerated.

Lay citizens of a distant country could pop up, wanting to present a book authored by them on a subject which sounds like Latin and Greek, simply because the book was launched back home, in the home language.

The last mentioned was the fate suffered recently by two senior members of the international diplomatic corps, when I popped up in flesh and blood to present to them a copy of my book ‘Como Sobreviver Na Selva Empresarial’.

It was kind of them to have granted me an audience. Like many a harsh slings and arrows of Fate coming their way, they took it very sportingly, thereby shoring up the image of their country in the feeble mind of a lesser mortal from one of the emerging economies of the world.

Bertie Wooster would have heartily approved of their chin up attitude. So would have Eustace Mulliner.

As to my not having gravitated towards a diplomatic career myself, Jeeves would have surely approved.

Thank you, Plum!

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/a-meeting-with-the-ambassador-of-portugal-in-norway

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/a-meeting-with-the-minister-counsellor-of-portugal-in-switzerland)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »