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Posts Tagged ‘Laurence J Peter’

Can the works of P. G. Wodehouse impart some lessons to CEOs and managers in managing their affairs better? His fans are always eager to relive the moments of mirth and bliss experienced by them while going through his books and stories. However, those of you who are from the realm of management and are dimly aware of the existence of a British humourist known as P. G. Wodehouse would by now be shaking your heads in disbelief wondering how something dished out by way of making one chuckle, guffaw and laugh could have anything to do with the stiff-upper-lip discipline of management.

To the latter, one would say that humour is serious business indeed. It is bound to make us feel lighter but cannot be taken lightly. In the past, we have examined in some detail the question if humour is serious business and have found an answer in the affirmative. In an earlier post, we also touched upon the way management theories and practices have evolved over the past century and checked if there are any common points between such theories and what Plum dishes out by means of his scintillating works.

The Intellectual Halo Around Seriousness

The deeper reality is that we value seriousness and tragedy over humour and laughter. Our minds boss over our hearts. Seriousness somehow makes us sound more intellectual. Most of the times, anything humorous is treated by us as being frivolous and perhaps fit to be scoffed at on the intellectual plane. On campuses of high-brow seats of learning, it is easy for us to visualize absent-minded professors going about with a heavy tome or two clutched in their hands, with a morose look on their faces, as if they were just being led by an invisible hand to the gallows. At management seminars and conclaves, serious talks get applauded while a speaker conveying a plain vanilla message coated in delectable humour gets ridiculed for playing to the gallery. In companies, at board meetings, detailed power point presentations of a serious kind get appreciated, whereas anything said in a lighter vein runs the risk of being greeted with healthy scorn.

One admires such management thinkers as C. Northcote Parkinson, Sharu Rangnekar and Laurence J. Peter who have broken this glass ceiling and given us rich management lessons in a humorous manner.

In their book Humour, Seriously, Naomi Bagdonas and Jennifer Aaker debunk the myth that humour has no place at the work place. In an interview, Jennifer Aaker opines that leaders with a sense of humour are seen as 27% more motivating; their teams are more than likely twice as likely to solve a creativity challenge. When leaders use humour in their interactions with their team members, they signal humility and humanity, thereby reducing the status barrier between themselves and their audience. The goal of humour at the work place is not merely to make others laugh; it is to put people at ease, thereby enabling them to be more open and candid in sharing their opinions.  

Humour in Brand Management  

Consider the innovative way humour gets deployed by a few brands of repute to keep their images shining bright.

Since 1946, the Air India Maharajah has been representing India with charm and dignity, making the company more visible to its customers all over the world. Created by Bobby Kooka along with Umesh Rao of J. Walter Thompson, the advertising agency, it has kept pace with the times – as a lover boy in Paris, a sumo wrestler in Tokyo, a Romeo in Rome and even a guru of transcendental meditation in Rishikesh.

Likewise, we have the case of the Amul girl. The mascot was created as a response to Amul’s rival brand Polson’s butter-girl. The idea was conceived in 1967 once ASP (Advertising, Sales and Promotion) clinched the brand portfolio from the previous agency FCB Ulka. It was executed by Mr. Sylvester Da Cunha, the owner of the agency and his art director Eustace Fernandes on hoardings, painted bus panels and posters in Mumbai. The mascot, since then, has been mobilized to comment on many events of national and political importance.

Not to forget some of our politicos who have risen from the ranks after having been successful comedians, managing countries and motivating their denizens to stand up to bullying by oversized neighbours waging wars so as to widen their sphere of influence.  

If a lay manager were to pick up such books by P. G. Wodehouse as Psmith in the City, Blandings Castle and Elsewhere and Something Fresh and put them under a managerial lens, she is surely apt to discover a treasure trove of precious lessons in such diverse fields as marketing, entrepreneurship, operations, systems and procedures and human resources.

When it comes to the art and science of managing bosses, Rupert Psmith, Reginald Jeeves and Ashe Marson have created a few templates for a manager to follow.

The higher the level of entropy of our business environment, the higher would be the need for humour in business. As we march into the future, a Wodehousean approach to Management could help CEOs and managers in more ways than one.

(Illustration courtesy R. K. Laxman)

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Surviving in the Corporate Jungle
BookFrontCover

This is in continuation of an earlier post, providing a short introduction to a book by yours truly. The Portugese version of the book is getting launched in Portugal shortly.
The launch event  in Porto is planned on the 2nd of March, along with a talk on “Work Life Harmony” at the  Catolica Porto Business School  of  Universidade Catolica do Porto.
The launch event in Lisbon is planned at Universidade Europeia on the 3rd of March, 2016, as part of an event titled ‘Passport to India.’

Why the reference to a jungle?

One, it is fashionable these days to talk about environment and sustainability. Two, in many ways, the type of organizations we work in and the kind of people we meet there, many parallels can be drawn.

I believe there are three kinds of organizations: the Circus kind, the Zoo kind and the Jungle kind.

Whatever the kind you work for, you get to see Lion King bosses who are the lords and masters of all they survey. Mentors who keep an eye on the quality of work that you do, much like a giraffe would.

Colleagues who are like enchanting deers, always willing to support you. Subordinates who are snakes in the grass, waiting for an opportunity to back-stab you. Customers who are as prickly as a porcupine. Suppliers who are as cunning as a fox.

Fed up with a company? Change over to another one. You would still find people there with similar traits. Only the names and the faces would change. In other words, there is no escaping the jungle!

Some bouquets

Those who deserve bouquets for what they have unwittingly contributed towards the conception as well as the delivery of this book:

My friends, philosophers and guides: They continued to egg me on to write a book of this kind – late Prof. S. P. Singh, Ashok Kalra, S. P. Krishnamurthy, Vipin Dewan, C. S. Dwivedi, Prof. R. P. Raya, and a few others.

Thought leaders, like Peter F. Drucker, Philip Kotler, J. R. D. Tata, C. Northcote Parkinson, Laurence J. Peter, Ratan Tata, Sharu Rangnekar, Stephen R. Covey and many others.

Hapless souls who have undergone the trauma of going through and commenting upon the rough portions of this book: Miguel Dias, Founder, CEO World, Jose Antonio de Sousa, President & CEO, Liberty Seguros, Jack Jacoby, Executive Chairman, Jacoby Consulting Group Pty Ltd, and a few others.

Those who have worked so very hard on the illustrations – thereby making the book a wee bit livelier.

Vida Economica, the publishers, who showed the courage to pick up a whacky manuscript from an unknown first-time author.

Quite a few others who have burnt the midnight oil, acted as proficient midwives and taken me through the labour pains of the editing and publishing process, ensuring that the baby got delivered.

The souls which play the role of my immediate family members in this life, without whose support this book would not have seen the light of the day.

Special thanks are due to my soul-mate and the very young ones, without whose support the book could have been finished in half the time it actually took to write.

Few brickbats

If any brickbats are to be hurled, those have to be unerringly directed at the author of the book. However, before flexing your muscles, please be so kind as to check if he is covered for such exigencies by any insurance policy issued by Liberty Seguros.

You can buy the book here.

(Related Post:
https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/the-book-como-sobreviver-na-selva-empresarial-guia-pratico)

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