Monthly Archives: May 2006

Published in The Hindu Business Line

Today, The Hindu Business Line (a leading mainstream business daily in India) carries an article written by me on decision making in groups. The article appears in page 10 of the main sheet.

Link to the article: Why groups make bad decisions

You can send me feedback at mohit[dot]kishore[at]gmail[dot]com.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Published in The Hindu Business Line

Today, The Hindu Business Line (a leading mainstream business daily in India) carries an article written by me on decision making in groups. The article appears in page 10 of the main sheet.

Link to the article: Why groups make bad decisions

You can send me feedback at mohit[dot]kishore[at]gmail[dot]com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Purpose before profit

I have earlier written on mission and vision statements here.
Now, read a similar post from Talentism that talks more about the importance of a clear ‘purpose’ for every business. Purpose before Profit.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Project Manager Leaves Suicide Powerpoint Presentation

Over time, managers tend to think in the form of Powerpoint presentations, bargain with shopkeepers keeping concepts like opportunity costs in mind, and use 2×2 matrices in their personal lives.
That eternally funny ‘news’ source – The Onion has this hilarious “story”: Link
Project manager Ron Butler left behind a 48-slide PowerPoint presentation explaining his tragic decision to commit suicide, coworkers reported Tuesday. “When I first heard that Ron had swallowed an entire bottle of sleeping pills, I was shocked,” said Hector Benitez, Butler’s friend and coworker at Williams+Kennedy Marketing Consultants. “But after the team went through Ron’s final PowerPoint presentation, I had a solid working knowledge of the pain he was feeling, his attempts to cope, and the reasons for his ultimate decision.” “I just wish he would’ve shot me an e-mail asking for help,” Benitez added.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Of Anti-Reservation protests

In an unexpected occurrence, a group of anti-reservations protestors disbanded at the stroke of 10 pm as they had to watch the latest episode of ‘Desperate Housewives’, without which they would no longer be ‘cool’. As 21 year old Jerry (short for Jayaram) remarked, ‘That shit rocks. Anyways, I am not sure what the reservation issue is all about except that I am against it.’ When this correspondent informed Jerry that there is no word in the English language called ‘anyways’, Jerry mildly expressed surprise.

Meanwhile, DVDs of Rang De Basanti are selling like never before, as countless Indian hip hop youngsters are practicing wearing faded jeans and protesting and/ or appearing adequately starved in a hunger protest. Students across the nation have come together under various protest organizations with names like ‘Death of Merit’, ‘Anti-reservation Forum’, and ‘Oops, I am a SC!’.

When asked about what must be done to empower SC/ST/OBC “types”, 24 year old student leader Bob (short for Balwinder Singh) said, “Man, I don’t know man. Maybe, we can put them all in a spaceship and send them to a far off planet where they can have 100% reservation man. Man, Britney Spear is sure hot man. Yo! Anyways, they can all stay in their villages man. Arjun Singh is so uncool.” At this point our correspondent no longer wished to point out that ‘anyways’ is not a word. Five minutes later, Bob was seen asking a policeman to drag him on the ground and hit him with a lathi, thereby “being the change” as Aamir Khan had espoused in Rang De Basanti.

At Mumbai, Nirav Satyagrahi (real name) is launching an Anti-reservation yatra, in which over 1000 people would board a Virar fast and get off at Borivali for a hunger picnic at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. “This is a symbolic act to show that when animals don’t have reservations, why should humans have them.” remarked Nirav. When this correspondent pointed out that this argument was so shallow that it made Amisha Patel appear like a Noble laureate, Nirav stormed off to the nearest Barista. “Goddamn these well read journo types.” muttered Nirav under his breath.

At Bangalore, thousands of college students skipped classes and went to watch “Ice Age 2”, as a mark of solidarity against reservations. At the movie, the boys and the girls sat separate from each other in keeping with the university guidelines. This protest passed off peacefully, except for a stray incident involving a male student dressed as a female, which one spokesperson for the group termed ‘as a symbolic act, with the deeper message that men, women, SCs and OBCs are all the same’.
Meanwhile, Chetan Bhagat (that literary genius who wrote One night at the call center, a Tinkle style attempt at fiction) has begun work on his new novel – ’50 point someone. The story of an SC who got lucky, studied hard, and got kissed.’ Needless to say, there are some serious ‘literary’ licenses in the title itself. ‘I do not claim to understand India’s socio-economic realities, but I can spot a business opportunity when I see one.’ said Chetan about his new book.
Note: I am for reservations, but not of the kind that targets the votebank. I am more for the kind that brings about a gradual social change, giving everyone an equal opportunity to be a part of the mainstream, instead of some people having to sit on the sidelines and watch as the rest of India surges ahead.

1 Comment

Filed under Current Affairs

The importance of Mission/ Vision Statements

I don’t know why companies do not give enough importance to their vision and mission statements. As organizations grow larger and larger, it is only the top management that has any clue about why the business exists in the first place. Employees lower down the hierarchy are unable to see the grand pattern in their mundane day to day activities. When employees find that the organization’s goals are not in sync with their own personal goals (or when they have no clue about what the organizations’s goals are) they start looking out for other jobs. People like to, and should, be part of causes which are larger than themselves. The employees over at Google, are likely to strongly believe that what they do on a day to day basis will revolutionalize the way people view computing and technology. Check this link, to gain an insight into Google’s corporate philosophy. On the other hand, I wonder if the hardworking guys who sit in ICICI Bank branches from 8am to 9pm have any clue why they are with that company.
Vision statements and mission statements convey in a few words, what it is that the organization exists in the world for. Their brevity enables stakeholders to easily remember, imbibe and apply the tenets of the founding fathers of the organization. It also tells you in a few words whether or not an organization is for you or not. If a company’s mission statement was – “To be the most ruthless widget manufacturer with the supreme goal of wiping out competition” – would you join it? Of course, I have to admit that most vision/ mission statements are really sugar coated and sound glorious. That is only because the people who are crafting them do not think the exercise will add any value to their organizations. They think it’s more of a PR exercise for the benefit of the outside world.

If companies pay closer attention to the vision/mission statement, and tie organizational objectives to it, evaluate every step they take in terms of whether or not it will help them achive their mission, employees would be much happier. At least, they would have a clue about what the hell is going on, instead of just selling more of whatever it is that they sell.

Incidentally, the Balance Scorecard is one such approach where strategy flows from the organization’s vision and is translated into four perspectives – financial, internal, customer and organizational development. It is inherently a good concept, and it probably works because most organizations rarely have a right brained vision/mission. They usually have a very quantified, market related definition of why they exist. With a left brained mission like “being number one in the market”, a Balance Scorecard becomes like a simple execution roadmap for the same. It lacks that one key magic element – “passion”.
Needless to say, just having a great mission/vision statment is only the first step. The next step is ofcourse execution! All I am saying is start from the basics. If you can tell your stakeholders what it is that your organization stands for like a beacon in the world, and then lay down the rest of the foundation, you will not reach a day when you wonder what you are doing in the first place. One wonders if most organizations exist soley for profits, and hence find no use for ‘touchy, feely’ things like vision statements.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why you must not read too much into Bollywood, or even get frustrated

Which reality do Bollywood films project? They do not project the reality of the vast majority of film goers(that one may classify as middle or upper middle class). It certainly doesn’t depict the reality of the class of people who actually make those films. Bollywood instead seems to have a reality of its own – a reality that has been gradually shaped over the years.
Why are formulaic films made in India? I believe the answer may lie in India’s mythological tradition. Most forms of drama/dance such as Kathakali, Yakshagana, Ram Leela etc all perform the same mythological stories over and over again in multiple performances, without ever changing much. Yet, people do not get bored of them. A part of the whole experience of watching one of these performances is that everyone in the audience knows how things will eventually turn out. The audience is actually more concerned with the uniqueness of that performance, as opposed to uniqueness in content. A large number of mainstream Hindi films too seem to follow this principle. They are rather formulaic – the inevitable 6 songs, the hero’s mother, the climax, parental opposition to the love story are all present, yet audiences still go to the theatre for the whole experience, not just the specific content of the script. In this sense, Bachchan dying in the arms of his mother is probably better than say, Mithun doing the same.

Why are there songs in Hindi films? Following from the mythological tradition that I have outlined, it is safe to assume that in the early days, songs played a similar role in films as they did in traditional drama, which was to take the narrative forward, or generally speed it up (the ‘hero’ grows up from a little boy to a man in the course of a song, the young couple progress from flirtatious eye contact to an actual relationship and so forth.) Songs also tended to emphasize key turning points in a film. Recently, with the growth in the music labels, songs tend to perform a commercial function too, as they help the film to break even through music sales. With that being the case, it is not surprising that even films have music videos these days.

Why are Hindi films so intellectually uncomplicated? Well, Hindi films are largely meant to entertain, with a couple of social messages thrown in. They do not pretend to be works of art, or a medium of serious artistic expression (how else do you explain such ‘stars’ as Shah Rukh Khan, who simply cannot play a character other than themselves). We tend to commit the mistake of comparing Bollywood with Hollywood. Mainstream Hollywood is just as non-serious as Bollywood, but there is a much stronger emphasis on actual content. Also, the gap between mainstream and non-mainstream has always been lesser in Hollywood. With the success of films like Rang De Basanti, people have realized that the Ram Leela style of film making is not the only one that works. Occasionally, people also want deeper, more realistic films that engage the brain and not just mildly amuse it.

[The above post does generalize to a certain extent, but that is only in the interest of making a larger point. There has undoubtedly been a rich tradition of intellectual cinema in India too, by the likes of Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegaland so on.]

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized