Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Subway - No way

I used to be a big Subway fan, to the extent that all my eat outs used to end up at Subway. My wife would object saying it was not hygienic to eat stuff which was cut and kept open. I used to give her a big lecture on Subway as an international brand which was very quality conscious and so on.

One day my wife got and opportunity to counter all my quality conscious Subway gyan. We walked into a Subway outlet in Gurgaon and I was getting ready to order, when my gaze moved to one of the containers on the counter which had a dead lizard in it. I was shocked and so was my daughter. I quickly clicked a snap of the thing and called out to the counter boy. The boy looked sheepishly at me, picked up the lizard and threw it in the dustbin and had the courage to ask me ' your order sir'.

I was amazed at the lack of quality consciousness of this chap, and that got me thinking about how shallow the claims of these so called big brands about quality consciousness is. I am sure this incident did not get escalated any further, nobody got to know at Subway of this fact and the next time around the same thing may happen and it will get brushed under the carpet just like this one incident.

You and I will probably assume that the brands do mean quality, but many incidents in the recent past have shown that the big international brands do not guarantee quality, be it worms in chocolates, pesticides in cola and so on.

For the time being, I have stopped eating Subway, not that it impacts their business, but just cannot come around to it. I wish my trust was not betrayed in such a manner, and more importantly I wish my wife did not get this opportunity to pull my leg every time we went out to eat.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Management Knowledge sharing initiative

My dear friend Avneet Jolly, who contibuted matter for my most popular blog item 'An Indian in Texas', has embarked on a very interesting venture to help consolidation of management knowledge and sharing it for people who need it. Details about his outfit are given below.

Also there is a contest for contribution of good ideas and knowledge for people who may want to partcipate in it.

A good initiative and another one has been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. All the best Avneet for this good effort.



Insightory Inc.



Insightory is a platform for management professionals, academicians and graduate business students to share their knowledge and insights with the corporate world, solve management issues collaboratively, and network with peers who have similar professional interests.

Our goal is to do for management knowledge what Wikipedia has done for general knowledge i.e. put it out on the "open" web, so that those who have expertise can add to it, and those who need the expertise can tap into it. In doing so, we will create powerful networks, with rich opportunities for "providers" as well as "seekers" of management knowledge.

We believe in five "core" tenets:

  • Companies need a constant supply of "management knowledge" (best practices, trends, how-to's, insights, etc.)
  • Having access to multiple viewpoints is better than having access to a few.
  • Management knowledge is not the essential domain of a few; it is distributed among tens of thousands of smart, experienced people all over the world.
  • Currently, there isn't any effective way for companies to tap into the experience and expertise of those who aren't employees or contractors / consultants.
  • The most efficient mechanism for building and distributing knowledge is an open, internet-based system.

This is our alpha website. A beta version will be launched in December 2007. We are currently holding a Contest for the best management-related documents. Anyone in the management community is welcome to participate. See details, rules and award information here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Will you hire this person !!

A friend shared this application he received for a job. One can learn a lot about writing a CV from the same. Read it and learn.

If you think you will want to hire him, do tell me, I will get him to write to you. The letter has been reproduced with only a few changes to block the identity of the person. I am highlighting areas of real inspiration and learning for me. Hope you will find new learnings too.

Dear sir

its rarely to recieve like this mail so be ready to iether delete it or reply imediately. and also its my first time to send it and iam redy for both the options.

iam one of the most intelegent men at the current time & iam the best in every thing i do, through the world.

i believe that iam not less than Isaac Newton but an apple havnt yet fall on my hed. instead of waiting for the apple i decide to search for it.

i feel that the best company to work for is yours, although i dont have the extensive knowledge but with one chapter i can make things that peoples who studied hundreds of books cant.

this simple english language and a medium knoledgge of
windows xp

is all i have but iam sure that i can make the difference.

please dont miss this oportunity.

give me a specific problem and a short course on what i need to solve the problem and see what will i do.

i dont need any money, and if i fail i will refund every peny u spend for the course.
i know you have problems, and this is the chance to solve it, again dont miss it.
iam xx(age) years old, from abc (city) the time i live in yyy (country)s tuding oracle iam looking forward to hearing form you.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


There are so many times I get a call where recruiters call to say they have an exciting job opportunity for me. My instant reaction all these years have been to say sorry I am not interested. The immediate reaction is 'WHY'. Most of the times it is impossible for people to understand that there could be people in this world who may not want to switch jobs.

The other thing that is amazing is the oversell. "I have this exciting opportunity for you in this MNC organisation, can you please give me your profile for my reference". When you do not know my profile how the hell do you know whether the job opportunity is exciting for me or not.

Also now at times, I feel the desperation of the recruiters from the way they have started approaching their job. "We have a job for you". "Not interested". " Okay can you give us a reference". This is exactly how the tele-callers selling you those credit cards or loans approach the interaction.

Executive Search, in my mind, is not about making those cold calls and hoping that one of the conversations will lead to a right reference. Its a game of relationships and reach, which will then help you narrow the search down to the right kind of person for the job one is searching for.

My simple thought for all you recruiters making the cold call to anyone is, first try and build a relationship and understand the person properly, if not this time, it will come in handy for future. Remember this game will be about relationships and reach.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Abhi na jao chor ke (Please don't go) !

I have started to believe that an employee has maximum valuation from his/her employer on the day they announce they will quit. Suddenly the whole organisation gets down to trying to convince the person about how the organisation believes in the person and has great things lined up for their careers. Also in many cases offer to increase their salaries manyfold and promote, transfer, or do whatever will get the person to stay back.

The same employee may have been refused a more than 10% increase a few months back, in the garb or market pay competitiveness, budget, internal parity and so on and so forth. Also the company would have refused promotion / transfer on various other pretexts.

Recently someone narrated a story about how a very smart employee did outsmart his employer and beat them at their own game. The person put in his papers and the company offered him a 40% increase and asked him to stay back. The person agreed, took the increase letter, went and negotiated with the hiring company and got a significant increase over the increased amount. The new hiring company obviously thinking very highly of this person's credibility since the current organisation was willing to bend backwards to retain the employee.

Today I understand that in that organisation everyone thinks that if they can bring an offer back and negotiate with their current employer they would be able to get the increase they did not get during increment time. I don't blame them.

Employers need to start thinking more long term given the demand situation for talent and understand that offering significant increases to employees who put in their papers is a very risky tactic, which has far higher negatives than positives and will hurt the organisation in the long term and send wrong signals to all other employees.

My simple thought is that knee jerk reactions will always create more complications. Try and retain people through more long term measures, let a few people go, after all the others need a chance to grow in the organisation as well.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Time to Move on

Someone told me about how people have found a new way to get trees to bear more fruit. They resort to controlled poisoning of the plant. The thought behind this is that when threatened with their life the plants tend to try to protect their species by producing more seeds, which are contained in the fruit. So this ends up getting more output per tree compared to what they normally produce in relaxed times with no threat.

I have decided to apply the same to my life and have quit my job after a 10 year long stint. Currently in the happy state of joblessness I am working on a few business ideas and hopefully will be in a position to start some entrepreneural venture in the near future. Wish me luck.

I am hoping that when funds start drying up I wouldn't have any choice but to force myself to come out of my self-imposed state of joblessness, till then just to make all you guys who toil away on your computers feel envious, I am learning to play the guitar, tabla and am learning hindustani classical vocal. Its not a bad deal being jobless.

My simple thought at this moment is : Aane wala pal, jane wala hai, ho sake to isme zindagi bita do, pal jo ye jane wala hai.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Umar pachpan ki dil bachpan ka

For people who do not know hindi, what the title means is 'Fifty five year old but the heart of a child'.

Last sunday I went to play football after a good 20 odd years. Everytime I would get the ball I would start with it, kick it forward but every single time I could not reach it before the others. I was frustrated and my teammates were more frustrated with me. So I applied all my consulting experience and using the six sigma methodology I arrived at the simple root cause analysis. My mind was playing according to my potential as a 16 year old and my body was behaving according to my current age 36. So the kicks assumed I could reach the goal but my body refused to move.

I came back home to relate this back to the organisational context, especially the large ones, where organisations go and hire really bright, enthusiastic people and then put them into processes which do not work at the same speed as how the people work or expect the process to work. The people probably feel the same frustration I felt when I was not able to reach the ball.

I remember someone mentioning the experience of a person who moved from a large organisation to a small one. The person was able to start some 10 projects in 6 months, compared to 3 projects in the large organisation in 2 years. And the process to get the projects sanctioned remained the same, including same number of approval levels between the small and the large organisation. The person said he felt as if he had become very productive suddenly and was feeling really happy about the outcome of his efforts.

The recent phenomenon of a lots of people quitting their jobs to start out on their own could probably be the 'umar pachpan ki dil bachpan ka' syndrome where they are stuck in organisations which move much slower compared to their aspirations. Being on your own allows you to pace the work according to your expectations and capabilities and gives you the requisite job satisfaction which eludes one in a large organisation.

So my simple thought to all these organisations is to bring about an alignment between the expectations and capabilities of people and the speed at which the processes move in the organisation to ensure that the frustation levels reduce, which will also reduce attrition in the long run.

So next sunday, I am going to bring about an alignment between my mind and my body and play to equalise both. Further to help reach my true potential as a footballer, I will have to shed quite a few kilos. Wish me luck.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Retain HR first !

How would you feel if a restaurant owner prefers to eat at other restaurants rather than his own, a builder prefers to stay in properties made by other builders, a person working in a manufacturing unit, prefers to buy products of competitors rather than what is manufactured in the plant where he/she works ?

I would feel awkward. So now how would you feel in the same light about working in a company where the HR folks themselves don't stick around ?

HR folks seem to be moving jobs all the time, which would mean that they do not trust all the brilliant talent retention programs that they create for their organisations and hence would prefer to 'eat at another restaurant-from my example above'.

I sometimes wonder if this could be one of the key reasons why people do not believe in many of the HR programs, because the people who create them do not give the impression that they believe.

If an organisation wants to build that trust, then first thing that needs to be tackled is attrition within the HR department. Unless that is done, building faith in the HR programs will be an uphill task.

So my simple thought is follow the old wisdom of 'charity begins at home'. All you guys in HR first think of programs to retain yourselves before you embark on making successful retention plans for the others, your own conviction will make the programs much more successful than anything else.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Exit formalities !!

Recently I met a lot of people who quit their respective organisations and the common complaint across various organisations was that their organisations really made it terrible for them to complete their exit formalities. It took tremendous amount of effort for them to get all the clearances and then a lot of back and forth before the final settlement was done.

I also met a few organisations who want to work on a program to get some of their alumni back to their organisations and some of these organisations were willing to put in quite a lot of time, effort and money into the assignment.

The surprising part was that there was a lot of common names between the first set of companies and the second :-). It made me wonder how would they achieve it if they did not make the parting a happy experience for the employee.

The other thing that I noticed was that when a person quits they refuse to divulge the name of the next organisation they are headed to. I assumed it was probably because people were undecided till I asked a few people as to why would they not want to tell people about where they were going.

I was surprised to find that many feared that either HR or their manager will try and create a problem in their exit to the other company, hence they prefer to divulge the name only after they join.

What I found the most amazing was that all these companies believed in the best practice of conducting Exit Interview. This put one thing in perspective for me. Most times when I tried making some sense of exit interview data for clients, I used to find it difficult to co-relate the same with the on-ground reality.

Now I know, either the people giving the exit interview were plain scared of a bad referral, so they were nice and sugary or plain mad at the organisation for making their exit difficult.

One simple thought hence is that if you want your exit interview data to be of use ensure the exit of an employee is smooth and cordial.