MANAGEMENT is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; LEADERSHIP determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall - Stephen Covey

Friday, April 21, 2006

P&G and A.G

I recently read an interesting article on the about P&G’s (you could say A.G.Lafley’s or A.G’s) growth in the past years and the turbulent times he had gone through to make the company what it is today (Good to Great!?). It’s interesting to note that A.G. is actually beleaguered about P&G’s growth in the recent years (well…growing in turbulent times is indeed great!?) following many acquisitions in the past worth billions of $$$$$$ and getting excessively commoditized.

Well, here is a list of few things that I thought would be of major concern to ‘A.G’ (ofcourse…this list is based on the article published)

a) Too many acquisitions in the past – post acquisition synergy – people issues – cultural issues et al
b) Average age of employees is 38 & 40% joined through some acquisition!!!
c) Very few women on board to drive the strategy (women-centric markets / products!)
d) Top-Tier staff turnover on a rise – no worries for A.G as long as the remaining ‘senior officers’ know what they are doin’.
e) Commoditized business – more of a bane than boon?
f) Consumerism & related challenges

Do you think that the road ahead for retailers is a fairly straight & neat road to commodity-hell???

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ten Books that...

If you have recently visited Tom Peters' website, you would notice a post on "Twelve Books That Changed the World". This post got me started to think on my feet and come up with a similar list and here I present below my roll of "Ten Books That Changed My View Of the World"
Do you have anything to add to the above???

Excellent Equation!?

I recently read this quote on the web and was captivated by it. Here it goes… “Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” – WOW!

Now may I derive a equation from the above quote...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Google's dating game!

I recently read a FORBES article that has talks about Google's plans for its search-savvy users. We all use GOOGLE to find any (and supposedly every) information on the web BUT now the company hopes that its users would use GOOGLE to remind them of lunch appointments, hot dates etc…using a calendar website it is launching today. This sounds absolutely awesome to me! I love the way GOOGLE is trying to position itself as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all services. Well, its time for Yahoo & Microsoft to react (respond!)?

Turning trash into cash

I recently read an interesting article (news-item) posted in The Columbia B-School (Eugene M. Lang Center for Entrepreneurship) website. The concept is surprisingly simple: encourage recycling by paying homeowners to turn in their newspapers, plastic bottles, cans & other recyclable materials.

This is really cool! These are definitely WOW! Projects (in TP’s words). Could this model be replicated worldwide? Would it be possible to obtain funding for such programs / projects in India or other developing economies? Could banks, financial institutions & VCs egg on business plans for such WOW! Projects – that would dramatically change the world and thereby make it a better place to stay?

Well, I do not have the answers to the above but firmly believe (and proven research suggests) that the following are the major impacts of recycling on the global environment: -

a) Use of recycled materials shrinks the consumption of world’s natural resources.
b) Recycling waste avoids the over-use of landfill refuse sites, which in turn trims down the level of potential pollution or contamination.
c) Manufacturing costs could be reduced as a result of energy savings to the extent of 5% approx.

You may also note that effective recycling / re-using has long-lasting impact on corporates: -

a) It projects a ‘green’ or ‘eco-friendly’ institution (responsible corporate citizen!) thereby contributing to a greener & healthier environment.
b) Greener image enhances the company’s goodwill & reputation therefore these companies are more sought after in the financial markets & hence attract better investment opportunities.
c) Commands a share price premium – ‘green investments’
d) There would be (in a few countries, it’s already mandatory) a statutory business requirement in major developing economies to adopt processes such as waste recycling etc…
e) Many service companies (everybody is in service!) have entered the ‘recycling market’ to offer value-added, cost efficient & timely service.

Kudos to such WOW! Projects that create an ever-lasting impression. Great going.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Seven surprises!

Have you ever read the Oct-2004 HBR article titled ‘Seven surprises for new CEO’ by Michael Porter, Jay Lorsch and Nitin Nohria? If you haven’t, let me tell you…you are missing something very important & fundamental on today’s CEO Leadership principles.

The article deals with CEO complacency that may crop-up when at work thinking that its all about high-level strategy setting, decision making, making things happen etc…However, that being the case, as a CEO, you have much more to do on your agenda and you need to do things with caution & care. Porter at al have discovered that nothing – not even running a large business within the company – fully prepares a person to be the CEO. WOW! Whadda way to go! He lists seven surprises that are most common for new CEOs: -

1. You can’t run the companyThe sheer volume & magnitude of external demands take many CEOs by surprise.
2. Giving orders is very costlyNo proposal should reach the CEO for final approval unless he can ratify it with enthusiasm.
3. Its hard to know what is really going onInformation overload causes chaos and with scale & size, it tends to get messier!
4. You are always sending a messageEverything a CEO utters is magnified, amplified, scrutinized and interpreted (sometimes mis-interpreted too!)
5. You are not the bossBoss…Do you see the Board of Directors above you?
6. Pleasing shareholders is not the goalCEOs shouldn’t get too myopic with short-term numbers / stock-prices...instead should focus on long-term value creation.
7. You are still only humanYou are not SUPERHUMAN!

Therefore, the lesson from the above article for new CEOs is one must learn to manage & lead the organization from an organizational context rather than focusing on daily operations (nitty-gritty or nook & cranny stuff!) and always remember that there are multifarious limitations in getting things done even though others might treat you like omnipotent. So true, isn’t it?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Contingency Theory – Myth or reality?

We all know what contingency theory (at least in theory!) actually means – THERE IS NO ONE BEST WAY OF ORGANIZING / LEADING A CORPORATION. Agreed. This is absolute common-sense (You don’t need to be a rocket-scientist to know this!).

Ofcourse, when things are dynamic YOU DO NOT NEED a static managerial / leadership style to manage things. You need to have / instill a dynamic leadership / managerial style to handle such pulsating moments inorder to take your organization through the next BIG GROWTH PATH (do I actually sound like a B-School professor?)…but why is it that many leaders (CEOs, CFOs, SVPs, VPs, SBU Heads et al) are extremely comfortable (sometimes even restful!) with their *present* leadership style or the way they manage things and why do they not want to change (for the better, ofcourse!)?

I guess the answer is very simple – LIMITED LEADERSHIP – which means leaders are too comfortable with their existing style (a.k.a. leadership philosophy) and are petrified to change / accept change. Period.

Well, I ask all you noble-beings one question…If you are scared stiff to accept change, why the heck are you a leader? I guess you have been made a leader by chance than by choice!

Contingency theory is NOT any cookie-cutter solution to leadership. It’s NOT a one-size-fits-all answer to all problems BUT it can help: -

1) Identify constraints under the present leadership style
2) Chart ways & means of managing / countering those constraints (infact, in some occasions, convert constraints to your favor!)
3) Organizations to evolve new (better!) leadership styles inorder to manage contingent / non-linear situations (you can’t have linear solutions to solve non-linear problems!)
4) Design organizational systems / sub-systems to handle crisis / contingency
5) Getting things done differently…remember…Great men don’t do different things; they do things differently!

So now, the choice is yours. You as a leader should be prepared and willing to lead by example in a non-linear (dynamic) way during non-linear times (I am reminded of a famous quote that goes like…”bottleneck is always at the top of the bottle”) and be open / acceptable to change (EMBRACE CHANGE!) thereby ensuring that contingency theory no longer remains a myth BUT reality.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Prof. VG's Blog

Vijay Govindarajan, known as VG, is the Earl C. Daum 1924 Professor of International Business at the Tuck School and founding director of Tuck's Center for Global Leadership. He is also the faculty co-director for Global Leadership 2020, Tuck's executive education program that focuses on global management and is taught on three continents. Prof. VG's area of expertise is strategy, with particular emphasis on strategic innovation, industry transformation, and global strategy and organization.
Do take time to visit his blog...indeed interesting & inspiring!

Friday, April 07, 2006


It’s definitely not a new word and neither is it a jargon any longer in the corporate world but I believe we should start looking at this word from a whole new dimension – that’s important!

Brainstorming to me is an informal free-wheeling creative group activity.

Informal – Being prim & proper or being too formal / ceremonial curbs your creativity and that’s why it is imperative to be informal. You CAN think better and out-of-the-box INFORMALLY and come-up with BETTER and INGENIOUS solutions!

Free-wheeling – Again, being unrestrictive helps you to think ‘outside the box’ – Get the message? Sometimes it’s good to be hands-off than hands-on (ofcourse, not always!)

Creative – Imaginative, Original, Ingenious, Innovative, Productive, Resourceful and Inspired…Do I need to say more?

Group activity – Yes…YOU ARE NOT ALONE and YOU SHOULDN’T BE ALONE because you CANNOT brainstorm if you are alone. It has to be a TEAM activity and together thrash out (discuss/ brainstorm) topics of concern / interest. The whole point is about TEAMWORKING and COLLABORATIVE THINKING inorder to synergize your thought process and thereby coming up with better / smarter /implemental / action-oriented SOLUTIONS.

Team members should be encouraged to ‘THINK ALOUD’ and come up with as many ideas as possible and should also be upbeat on building upon others’ ideas inorder to successfully BRAINSTORM.

How many of you actually BRAINSTORM at your workplace and HOW OFTEN DO YOU DO IT?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Quotes from TP's presentation

I was somehow inspired by these quotes (set out below) from a recent powerpoint presentation by Tom Peters. Hope you are as inspired as I am...simply WOW!
The Customer is GOD and the MARKET decides everything -
Source: Banner, Hua Xin Dress Co, Ltd., Rongcheng Industry Zone
Leaders don’t just make products and make decisions. Leaders make meaning - John Seely Brown

It is necessary for the President to be the nation’s … No. 1 actor. - FDR

If things seem under control, you’re just not going fast enough. - Mario Andretti

We eat change for breakfast! - Harry Quadracci, QuadGraphics

A man without a smiling face must not open a shop. —Chinese Proverb*
*Courtesy Tom Morris, The Art of Achievement

HBS launches IRC

Harvard Business School (HBS) marked the official inauguration of its India Research Center (IRC) with a faculty research symposium in Mumbai attended by a stellar audience of alumni, businesspeople, and others with an interest in India and South Asia. The IRC is the fifth research center of HBS, the other four being based in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris and Buenos Aires. The IRC office is located in Mahindra Towers and this is what Mr.Lawrence Summers had to say - "The IRC will disseminate important ideas that will create leaders and affect people’s lives. It aims to make a great contribution to India at this crucial time in its history."
Way to go HBS...To me, I personally feel...this is just the begining...The best is yet to come!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Back 2 Basics (B2B) ?

In a recent Mc.Kinsey Quarterly issue, the firm has set-out 10 trends (macro-economic) to watch out in 2006 as set out below:-

1. Centers of economic activity will shift profoundly, not just globally, but also regionally
2. Public-sector activities will balloon, making productivity gains essential
3. The consumer landscape will change and expand significantly
4. Technological connectivity will transform the way people live and interact
5. The battlefield for talent will shift
6. The role and behavior of big business will come under increasingly sharp scrutiny
7. Demand for natural resources will grow, as will the strain on the environment
8. New global industry structures are emerging
9. Management will go from art to science
10. Ubiquitous access to information is changing the economics of knowledge

Trend # 9 sounds familiar - From Management as an Art to Scientific Management???

Well, that goes out to say that F.W.Taylor was by far the most influential person of the time and someone who has had an impact (and continues to…) on management service practice as well as on management thought till date. As we all know, Taylor solemnized the principles of scientific management, and the fact-finding (cause & effect) approach that he put forward was largely adopted as a proxy for what had been the old rule of thumb. So, is someone re-inventing the wheel or is it back to basics???

India, a superpower?

I recently read an article in in an Interview with Clyde Prestowitz, president of the think tank Economic Strategy Institute and one of America's top foreign trade experts where he clearly explains the economic outlook for India in the near / distant future and why he thinks India would emerge as the next super power in 45 years. In his own words he says "It is going to be India's century. India is going to be the biggest economy in the world. It is going to be the biggest superpower of the 21st century." WOW! Wish it happens for REAL!

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