Monthly Archives: March 2006

Social distance in flat organizations

With organizations around the world preferring to have a flat structure, as opposed to a hierarchical one, social distance is reducing between leaders and followers. This article argues that leaders must maintain some sense of social distance so as to keep an eye on their overarching goals, as opposed to getting into a friendship competition.

The article ends on a rather interesting note:

What makes this case of wider significance is that introverts are overrepresented at the top of organizations, and many of them find establishing closeness difficult. Introverts need time to establish closeness and reveal difference—and time is in short supply. The trouble is that much that has been written about leadership behavior plays to the predispositions of the extrovert.
We need a “Leadership Guide for the Introvert.”

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Maintaining social distance in flat organizations

With organizations around the world preferring to have a flat structure, as opposed to a hierarchical one, social distance is reducing between leaders and followers. This article argues that leaders must maintain some sense of social distance so as to keep an eye on their overarching goals, as opposed to getting into a friendship competition.

The article ends on a rather interesting note:

What makes this case of wider significance is that introverts are overrepresented at the top of organizations, and many of them find establishing closeness difficult. Introverts need time to establish closeness and reveal difference—and time is in short supply. The trouble is that much that has been written about leadership behavior plays to the predispositions of the extrovert. We need a “Leadership Guide for the Introvert.”

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Your website : the world’s window to your organization

I fail to understand why most Indian companies fail to realize the value of a good website. Not only companies, some of India’s finest educational institutes too have pathetic websites. In a world that has shrunk due to the Internet and other technologies, it is vital that companies realize that their websites probably touch more people than their physical offices or even the products/services they offer will ever do. Your website represents your brand to the rest of the WORLD.

When companies spend so much on television advertising to strengthen their brand identity and recall, why don’t they realize that their websites are like open windows to their companies?
Any good corporate site must have the following features:
  • Excellent use of the brand identity: Just a cursory look at the website must reinforce the brand’s core values.
  • Repeat value: A site must offer users some reason to come back. This could be in the form of a live news ticker that has updates on the company or even online contests for visitors.
  • No registration please: Never ask a user to register to access any part of your site. If your idea is that more and more people should learn about your company, then creating artificial barriers like registration does not help your cause.
  • Reinforce, reiterate, repeat: This can’t be said enough, but use your site to reinforce your brand values as much as possible. Anyone who has been watching the slick and sexy State Bank of India ads on TV will be dissappointed when they visit their old world style online incarnation here.
  • Live mail ids please: If you mention any e-mail ids on your site, please make sure that those ids exist and are checked on a day to day basis. Dead e-mail ids are a major irritant!

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Management by Matrices – my new blog

I have set up a new blog that is exclusively meant for management related posts. Regular programming continues here on non-management related stuff.

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Public-private partnership in public transport


“The Railways Tourism Policy ’06 lays a lot of importance on public-private partnership (PPP) in tourism products. “There is a huge potential for public-private partnership in rail-tourism services as there are 5m international tourists and 400m domestic tourists.”

In my view all public transport must be privatized. This would lead to healthy competition from service providers who would try and provide the best possible services to the end user. Private participation also means that radical decisions take a shorter time to execute. Considering the sad state of public transport in most major Indian cities, radical ideas are the need of the hour.

Product super-customization is also a natural fallout of a free market scenario. Look at the number of tariff plans that private cellular phone operators provide! On the other hand, the government typically goes for a ‘one size fits all’ strategy that would be easy to execute and implement on a large scale, but not optimal for a customer. For instance, if I was running the Mumbai locals, I would probably add a couple of AC coaches to it, thereby passing on additional comforts to people who can afford it and use the additional funds to better services for other passengers!

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Entrepreneurial Proverbs

Proverbs are a great way to codify precepts into a form that is easily remembered and applied. At O’Reilly Radar, I found a fantastic article that budding entrepreneurs may find interesting.

Check it out: Entrepreneurial Proverbs

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Innovation at the bottom of the pyramid

Most organizations conceptualize strategy in a top-down manner, where senior management expects the managers down the levels to execute without questioning. What often gets ignored, are little process improvements and even major innovations undertaken by managers, in an attempt to tackle uniquely local issues. For instance the response to a marketing initiative in a saturated market like Mumbai may not be the same as the response in a less saturated market like a Madurai. This may mean that local managers need to devise customized solutions.

While, it is appreciable that managers lower down the line come up with such innovations, and indeed feel empowered in the process too, what is disappointing is that most organizations have no mechanism to capture these local successes. I would like to see every organization have a Knowledge Manager in each location where it operates, who documents local successes and failures. A central repository of such ‘cases’, would go a long way in ensuring that the wheel is not reinvented each time. Knowledge management need not be a fad followed by multi-national organizations. I see it being relevant even for the smalles entrepreneur.

Organizations would do well to develop a bi-directional strategy setting system, where macro-strategies are formulated at the higher levels and micro-strategies are formulated at the lower levels, and together they would form a part of the organization’s roadmap for the future.

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