Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Management’

bellcurveThe pre-dominance of the Bell Curve in performance appraisals has never been in doubt. It recognizes the fact that all people are not identical, the tasks assigned to them are different, and the environment they operate in need not be homogeneous. All organizations have their share of high performers, free riders, under-performers, and downright deadwood.

A well understood Bell Curve principle is about building meritocracy and practising a differentiated rewards strategy. It has its own limitations, especially in highly innovative outfits. However, it keeps the bar high, thereby helping an organization to scale greater heights.

(Excerpt from my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’)

Read Full Post »

Advertising

As a Chief Executive Officer, if you hire lions like Pablo Picasso or MF Hussain to create a corporate emblem for your company, would there be any point in getting a bunch of giraffe Vice Presidents and General Managers to meddle with his final work? Define a target and a budget, and let the agency have a free hand.

As a trainee cub, join an ad agency if you love irregular working hours, midnight escapades and hobnobbing with the hoi polloi of creative geniuses whose king (or, queen) size egos need to be managed at all times, with clients’ deadlines looming large over your work horizon. Depending on your skill set, you may gravitate towards copywriting, production, media planning, or client servicing. In all cases, creativity under pressure should be the motto of your life.

(Excerpt from my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’)

Read Full Post »

Ladies and Gentlemen of the world,

Allow me to lodge a protest.

The derogatory manner in which I am generally referred to by the Homo sapiens is a matter of sincere regret. I wish to ass-everate that I have sterling qualities of head and heart. Even though a vast majority of you copy me ass-iduously in your day-to-day lives, you hold the member of my species in a low esteem. This is patently unfair. Permit me to set the record straight and ass-ert myself.

Members of your species have always given me a raw deal. You wilfully neglect some of my great contributions in diverse fields of life. Prohibition, literature, health, discipline, education, free speech, human values, law and order, science, politics, management, architecture, adventure and logistics are some of the fields where I have enabled your civilization to scale great heights.

Here is a quick recapitulation of some of my contributions to your so-called civilized society.

The fine art of advocating prohibition  

When I use my vocal chords to articulate my feelings, you make fun of me. You hold me to be mentally deficient. You do not realize that those of you who have had an excess dose of tissue restoratives sound much similar in their mindless laughter. When I bray, I merely advocate prohibition. Mahatma Gandhi would have been so very proud of me.

On the literary high table

Frequent references to me in the kind of literature many of you devour and admire goes on to establish my superiority in more ways than one.

In ‘Oliver Twist’, penned by Charles Dickens, law is held to be an ass. You may disagree with the proposition, but you cannot deny the honour conferred on me thus.

In ‘The Mating Season’, dished out by P. G. Wodehouse, even such an illustrious figure as Marcus Aurelius is alluded to as an ass.

“I wonder if I might call your attention to an observation of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He said: ‘Does aught befall you? It is good. It is part of the destiny of the Universe ordained for you from the beginning. All that befalls you is part of the great web’.”
I breathed a bit stertorously.
“He said that, did he?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Well, you can tell him from me he’s an ass.”

When I find a place at the literary high table, I do not see any reason for you to refer to me in a condescending manner.

Promoting good health

A part of your anatomy (that you mistakenly hold to be superior to that of me) is known after me. You use it to sit comfortably, thereby warming up the chair endlessly and missing your daily set of exercises.

The smart ones amongst you never remain seated for long and follow a physical fitness regime. They use this very part of their body in quite a few postures and thereby maintain good health.

Discipline and Education

While recollecting his late night encounters with the Rev. Aubrey Upjohn, Bertie Wooster, in his delectable memoirs, often shudders to think of the juicy ones he used to get on the soft spots. He obviously alludes to the very part of your anatomy referred to above. This shows the important role I play in shaping the character of your coming generations.

Hapless students try to ass-imilate the heaps of knowledge that gets dumped on to them by means of listless lectures delivered in dinghy classrooms. Even kids ass-ume the role of beasts of burden while lugging their extra-heavy school bags under the adoring eyes of their indulgent parents.

Free speech

When an ass-emblage of a group of students chagrined with crude attempts of authority figures to curb their right to free speech, they often make me an icon of their peaceful protests. Candlelight vigils do not deliver the kind of strong message that my presence, with a poster shaming the authority looped around my slender neck, does.

Some protestors learn the tricks of the trade from such non-profit groups as the ASS – Advisory Services for Squatters, based in London, UK.

Law and order, human values

Ask any rozzer. When not in the presence of a human rights enthusiast, he is likely to confess the utility of the part of your anatomy named after me to make even a law-abiding citizen admit to a crime he never committed.

I confess that, when provoked, I am wont to deliver strong punches, using my hind legs. Despite the training you receive in martial arts, you can never really copy me on that account. The criminally inclined amongst you keep ass-aulting innocent citizens without any care in the world. My punches are designed to deliver a message of respecting human values and civic sense which many amongst you do not follow.

Science

Those of you who win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry keep ass-aying metals at periodic intervals, never ass-igning any credit to me in their much-applauded research papers.

Chemists can be forgiven to refer to me as AsS, a formula for Arsenic Sulfide. Likewise, I do not mind mathematicians referring to me as an ass-ociated collection of prime numbers of module M, Ass (M).

When a student of geometry conveys the lack of congruence of triangles by using the term ‘Angle-Side-Side’, I do not object. When a genetic expert tries to describe a human gene which encodes the enzyme Arginino-Succinate-Synthetase, I feel flattered.

When it comes to advancements in science or technology, I follow the Jeeves dictum – of never raising a bushy eyebrow even for the smallest fraction of an inch, except when I am sad at being summarily ignored in all such references.

Politics

Unwittingly, whenever there are elections around, I get dragged into political controversies. If there are malpractices in the conduct of academic examinations, the top politician of the region runs the risk of his name being paraded on a member of my species. When a region showcases the wilder ones amongst us in a tourism promotional video, we get dragged into an unseemly political controversy.

Such ass-ociations merely reveal the shallow intellectual abilities of the Homo Sapiens. The hard work put in by me in any endeavour thrust onto me does not get due recognition. The simplicity with which I handle the burdens so very gleefully heaped on to me gets neglected. The soulful eyes with which I view my human masters never get appreciated.

Many politicians who happen to be ass-ociated with dynastically run outfits shamelessly copy me in their subservience to their political masters, but fail to acknowledge my contribution.

The manner in which your elected representatives often behave in your ass-emblies leaves me deeply disappointed in your race. When a favoured legislation has no chance of making it through the normal process, your politicians know how to rush it through as an ordinance and seek the ass-ent of the First Citizen of your country

Management

Excellent traits of followership that I possess could provide invaluable clues to leaders of all hues, sizes and shapes who aspire to achieve loftier goals in their chosen profession. Leading management institutes ought to be doing a detailed study on this aspect of my behaviour. Alas, they keep churning out inane stuff on leadership traits alone.

Unimaginative incentive schemes get launched, killing productivity and proving my superiority over some of your over-zealous but short-sighted production chiefs.

Finance honchos amongst you keep twiddling their thumbs to project the correct ass-ets of their companies in their books of accounts. Whenever a catastrophe strikes a business, insurance surveyors are called in to ass-ess the extent of damage.

When a manager has goofed up on a critical ass-ignment, he is referred to as a Jackass, thereby establishing my supremacy in all matters managerial.

Top bosses cannot function in the absence of their Executive Ass-istants.

In an annual ritual called Appraisals, human resources honchos routinely ass-uage the feelings of those who are left out in the latest round of promotions or increments. They are routinely ass-ured of a brighter future in the days to come, and advised to follow the path espoused by Bhagavad Gita – that of performing their duty without any expectation of rewards.

When a new boss ass-umes charge after a much-delayed promotion, the Yes-Men in his team quickly change their affiliations and try to ass-ert their importance in the scheme of things.

Architecture

Well-designed civil structures cannot come up unless I have carried some of the building materials on my sturdy back. While carrying heavy loads, I am invariably obedient and docile. No member of my species has ever entertained the idea of floating a trade union to ass-ert its labour rights.

Adventure and logistics

When it comes to your adventures in a rough terrain, there is no better provider of logistics services than yours truly. World over, for millennia, my services have been there at the man-not-so-kind’s disposal. Alas, these get taken for granted. I am yet to be nominated for a Nobel Prize in logistics.

Accord me the respect I deserve

I hereby urge upon you to look deep within and start treating me with the respect I deserve.

I might be perceived as being stubborn at times. But I am also companionable. My bite might be worse than my bray, but I am a friendly creature. You may find it difficult to frighten me. But you know that I am a dependable chap.

While almost all of you are still trying to conquer your ego, as advocated by some of your scriptures, I have already achieved that feat millennia ago. You are still trying to eliminate racial and gender discrimination. By following the principle of peaceful co-existence amongst all other species, I have been promoting racial harmony for centuries already. When it comes to chivalry, I am way ahead of many of you. Bertie Wooster would surely approve.

You think the members of the species of Equus africanus asinus possess a poor Intelligence Quotient. I beg to differ. As you can see for yourself, even our Spiritual Quotient is higher than that of the Homo sapiens.

Thank you for your time and attention.

An ass-ertive ass

Read Full Post »

Celebrating the first anniversary of having launched a book in Portuguese in March 2016.

English version to follow soon….!

ashokbhatia

Surviving in the Corporate Jungle

BookFrontCover

This is a short introduction to a book by yours truly, the Portugese version of which 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.’

How this book happened

Forty years back, the School of Business at a prestigious university in India made a big mistake. They awarded me a degree in Business Management. They were so very happy to see me off the campus that they even awarded a silver medal to me.

I owe this book to my professors – some of whom taught so well that I learnt a…

View original post 586 more words

Read Full Post »

India offers to the world an immensely rich collection of sacred scriptures.rig-veda First and foremost are the Vedas, which could be justifiably referred to as the core of the spiritual and psychological soft power of India. Then there are the Upanishads, which capture the highest spiritual knowledge and experience that India can offer to the world.

India also has Puranas, Itihasas, Tantras, Dharma Shastras, and Sutras, besides the innumerable works of religious poetry in regional languages.

Ramayana and Mahabharata

Amongst Indian scriptures, Ramayana and Mahabharata happen to be the most popular narratives. Both are pregnant with mature thought. Both contain teachings of political, religious, ethical and social kind. Both showcase, in a relatively simple language than that of the Vedas and the Upanishads, the Indian idea of Dharma, or righteousness.valmiki_ramayana

Both appeal to the soul as well as to the imagination of an intelligent mind. Even illiterates find gems of wisdom in these two epics. If philosophy, ethics, morals, social concepts, political thoughts or administrative justice form the warp in this unique fabric, heroic tales, human emotions, poetry, aesthetics, fiction, romance and villainy form the weft.

These epics showcase a highly developed sense of ethics and values, social and cultural realities of a distant past, besides intellectual and philosophical refinement. Lay persons could draw several life lessons from both these works. So could professionals of all hues.

Sanskrit, the supreme language  

Sanskrit is the language which forms the bedrock of a vast majority of these works. An intimate feeling of the language helps in understanding the multi-layered narratives better. One acquires a heightened sensitivity towards the shades of style and the context in which a statement is being made.

In today’s inter-connected world, one may not know Sanskrit but can still savour a fraction of the fragrant nectar of knowledge offered through any of the Indian scriptures.mahabharata-vyasa-ganesha

Sacred scriptures comprise a minor part of all the Sanskrit literature available from the Vedic to the pre-modern times. Nonetheless, they form the bedrock of Indian culture and spirituality.

Bhagavad Gita: The Song Celestial

Bhagavad Gita forms an integral part of Mahabharata, appearing in its Bhishma Parva. It comprises eighteen chapters. Broadly speaking, this unique composition touches upon three kinds of Yogas – Karma Yoga (The Yoga of Action), Gnana Yoga (The Yoga of Knowledge) and Bhakti Yoga (The Yoga of Devotion). [Yoga is a term which is often confused with physical practices of a certain kind. However, the term is used here in the sense of describing a communion, specifically the communion of an individual soul with the Divine.]

Upanishads articulate the philosophical principles concerning mankind, world and God. Gita explains the manner in which human beings can practice these subtle philosophical principles in their mundane lives.

Soulful management

One of the basic concepts enunciated by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita is that Mahabharat Krishna Arjunaof the everlasting nature of the soul. The concept of a soul now finds a resonance even in modern management literature. In his book ‘The 8th Habit’, Stephen Covey urges professionals to pay heed to their ‘inner voice’. While proposing the whole person paradigm, he speaks of the four dimensions of a person – spirit, body, heart and mind.

From a management point of view, perhaps the most relevant are the concepts espoused under the overall umbrella of Karma Yoga. Here, Lord Krishna emphasizes the importance of self-less action, free of its rewards and gains. A state of inaction is held to be another form of action itself.

Gita III 6

कर्मेन्द्रियाणि संयम्य य आस्ते मनसा स्मरन्।

इन्द्रियार्थान्विमूढात्मा मिथ्याचारः स उच्यते।।

[A hypocrite is one who suffers from a false notion of having self-discipline. He is someone who controls the organs of action but continues to dwell upon the objects of sense.]

Gita III 7

यस्त्विन्द्रियाणि मनसा नियम्यारभतेऽर्जुन।

कर्मेन्द्रियैः कर्मयोगमसक्तः स विशिष्यते।।

[He who controls his senses by his mind and engages with the organs of action in a Yoga of Action achieves excellence in whatever he does.]

The concepts enshrined under Gnana Yoga are also highly relevant for management professionals. This is so because one of the major challenges in their careers is to keep unlearning, so the process of real learning can never cease.

Smart professionals always keep an open mind. They strive to keep abreast of latest technological developments. They keep learning from their failures as well as from their successes.

The Yoga of Devotion

When it comes to Bhakti Yoga, the relevance of what Gita says is perhaps bhagavad_gitasomewhat limited as far as a practicing professional is concerned.

Loyalty and devotion – to a superior as well as to the company – are terms which readily spring to one’s mind. But in the absence of a truly charismatic business leader of the stature of Lord Krishna, blind devotion could perhaps lead to a catastrophe in one’s profession. A sense of misplaced loyalty often becomes an excuse for senior managers to remain in their comfort zones. Accepting fresh challenges becomes a key challenge. Their skill-sets start getting rusted. Much like stones which do not roll, they start gathering moss.

Time to rediscover the Gita

There is much that CEOs and managers can learn from the Bhagavad Gita. Its language is pregnant with symbolism at times. But it has rich lessons to offer for day-to-day conduct of business.

This stream of knowledge is close to 3,500 years old. It is never too late to rediscover it.

(Illustrations courtesy Wikipedia)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/management-lessons-from-ramayana

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/management-lessons-from-mahabharata

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/management-lessons-from-the-life-of-lord-krishna

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/some-management-lessons-from-india)

 

Read Full Post »

panjab-university-ubs

An academic course in management obviously does not offer lessons in managing the affairs of the heart. But the Class of 1977 broke through the academic shackles, with some of its members walking out of the campus with a clear strategy as to who their future soul mate shall be.

The stiff-upper-lip approach

Management education is all about the stiff-upper-lip approach of the mind. Analytical skills rule supreme, leading to rummy situations where analysis often leads to paralysis. Linear programming models get worked upon. Statistical techniques get dished out by stern looking professors who might have been hotter in their jobs more as police officers or as judges.

Hapless students are made to understand exponential smoothening techniques so as to be able to forecast business parameters in an uncertain business environment. Those with an engineering background struggle to match their debits and credits. The lucky ones who have had a background in commerce twiddle their fingers trying to grasp the complexities of quantitative techniques in decision-making.

The neglected need to boost our EQs

The behavioural sciences do provide a little bit of cheer to the tormented souls undergoing a typical MBA course. But to understand the psychology of an individual is no mean task. Mere case studies and management tips for handling an industrial strife do not improve one’s EQ substantially. Handling a tough boss eventually gets learnt only in the corporate world outside. The real world also teaches us to handle errant subordinates whose emotional blackmail upon reporting for work after a spell of French leave needs deft handling. The harsh realities of business world provide a high quality learning which can surely not be replicated within the stifling confines of a classroom.

The dashers and the rabbits

In fact, for some of those who formed the batch of 1977, the beautifully laid out campus outside provided a far better laboratory to test their hypotheses on the softer matters of the heart. These were the chosen ones who were smitten by the tender arrows of a smart Cupid.

The snag in the business of falling in love is much like that of mixed up career choices. Take an introvert and put him in a marketing assignment and the results could be disastrous. Take an extrovert used to making tall claims and put him in charge of manufacturing. The customers could soon melt away, leaving the company grappling with a credibility gap.

Bertie image

Same is the case in matters of love. As per the Bertie Wooster doctrine:

“….parties of the first part so often get mixed up with the wrong parties of the second part, robbed of their cooler judgment by the parties of the second part’s glamour. Put it like this. The male sex is divided into rabbits and non-rabbits and the female sex into dashers and dormice, and the trouble is that the male rabbit has a way of getting attracted by a female dasher (who would be fine for the male non-rabbit) and realizing too late that he ought to have been concentrating on some mild, gentle dormouse with whom he could settle down peacefully and nibble lettuce.”

The USP of the Class of 1977

The batch of 1977 had as many as five members of the tribe of the delicately nurtured. Since the previous one, the Class of 1976, had none, they were the cynosure of all eyes. They were invariably the prime focus of attention for many of us in the batch of 1976. All we seniors required was an inane excuse to pop up and try to grab the attention of at least one out of the five pairs of eyes we could feast on. The faculty members simply loved them – not necessarily for their academic proficiency, but merely for ensuring some discipline amongst the men folk loitering around.

Some of the members of our tribe of the so-called sterner sex were the shy and silent kind. Some were busy chasing their academic pursuits and kept their hormones under check. Others were benignly interested but limited their interactions to admiring gazes alone. Very few were the dashing types who, their puny chests all puffed up, attempted to indicate a more than passing interest in the parties of the other part.

Managed walks down the aisle

Those were traditional times when the distinction between an ‘arranged marriage’, a ‘love marriage’ and a ‘love marriage which had to be managed’ was pretty clear. Live-in relationships were not heard of.

The majority amongst us believed in the straight and narrow path that life offered then – the comfort of an ‘arranged marriage’ where the parents take the flak for subsequent problems, if any, and where love blossomed, albeit hesitatingly in some cases, much after the walk down the aisle took place. The time on the campus was, therefore, used by the members of this tribe merely to exchange furtive glances, suffer the pangs of transient infatuations and a silent admiration for the physical profile of the party of the other part.

pu-student-center

Then there were the dashing types, the risk takers who could use their time on the campus to firm up their affection for each other and concoct some dreamy plans for their future together. To avoid inquisitive and prying eyes, they would often vanish in thin air, possibly to land in such distant locales as the Sukhna Lake or the Rose Garden.

Management knowledge put to loving use

These were indeed the souls which put most of their management knowledge to actual use. No manual has been published till now, but it is clear that strategic decisions were taken by them with due diligence. Flawless planning and execution followed. Regression Analysis was applied to ensure that respective parents fell in line with the wishes of their wards. Soft-nosed commerce was used to draw up joint P&L Accounts and Balance Sheet, so the planned merger would face little financial turbulence. Principals of Materials Management were applied to ensure that the eventual stock transfer of one party to the abode of the party of the other part was carried out in a smooth and cordial fashion. Inspiration was drawn from a random sample of other couples who had successfully handled their affairs in an exemplary fashion.

Managing the Affairs of the Heart

cupidCupid, when it chooses to strike, is pretty democratic in nature. If one of the Class of 1977 decided to hitch her lot with a classmate of hers, yet another signed and sealed a merger deal with a senior of the Class of 1976. Both lived happily thereafter!

Close to forty years down the road, looking at the success of these mergers and alliances, it is highly regrettable that management academics still continue to adopt the stiff-upper-lip approach which focuses on analytical skills alone.

A day should surely dawn when ‘Managing the Affairs of the Heart’ gets introduced as a compulsory full semester subject across all management institutes; a time when doctoral theses on such subjects shall be encouraged.

After all, there are as many management lessons to be drawn from the works of Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, P G Wodehouse, O Henry and Jane Austen as can be gleaned from the tomes dished out by such luminaries as Peter F Drucker, McGregor and Philip Kotler.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/the-class-of-1976-how-it-managed-to-get-suspended-for-a-week

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/12/25/the-class-of-1990-how-ubs-prompted-sandeep-mann-to-learn-management-from-movies)

Read Full Post »

On the occasion of Thiruvalluvar day, celebrated on this day in the state of Tamil Nadu in India, in memory of Saint Thiruvalluvar who is said to have lived in a period between second century BC and 8th century AD.

ashokbhatia

Thirukkural (திருக்குறள்), also known as the Kural, is a classic Tamil ‘sangam’ (3rd century BC to 4th century AD) literature composition. It has 1,330 couplets or ‘kurals’. It was authored by the renowned poet Thiruvalluvar.

The Thirukkural is one of the most important works in the Tamil language. This is reflected in some of the other names by which the text is given by such as ‘Tamil marai’ (Tamil Vedas); ‘poyyamozhi’ (words that never fail); and ‘Deiva nool’ (divine text).

Just like ‘Ramayana’, ‘Mahabharata’, ‘Bhagavad-Gita’ and other scriptures, Thirukkural is also replete with words of wisdom. It is simple and contains profound messages.

Thirukkural has 133 chapters, each containing 10 couplets. Broadly speaking, all the 133 chapters can be divided into three sections: Righteousness, Wealth and Love. In the text below, the serial number of each couplet appears on the top, followed by its Tamil text and then by…

View original post 1,679 more words

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »