Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lessons from my Bosses!

I have had more than a dozen bosses in my working career till now, and was trying to figure out if I had to pick out a few things about them that I have admired and would like them to be qualities in myself what would those be. So in the next few posts I am going to put down a few things which I really liked about my bosses to create a reminder to myself about what I need to have as my leadership style. They are not in any particular order or preference just how they are coming to mind.

1. Show the way : I have had many bosses and many of them have continuously used one phrase "work smart not hard". The only problem with this being not many could explain 'WHAT THE HELL DOES IT MEAN'. Being a film buff it seemed like Fardeen Khan telling people to act better, but how dude, you seem to have no idea about it.

I was lucky to have two of my bosses who could tell me exactly what they meant and it was such a great luck to have people who could not just tell you what you were doing wrong but also tell you about how you could better what you were already doing well.

2. Dirty your hands once in a while : The reason why these two bosses, I think, could tell you what to improve was because they would dirty their hands once in a while. They would not just sit in their ivory tower but would be talking to customers, talking to employees, getting involved in all parts of the process, ofcourse only sometimes when required, but they were in touch with the entire process to understand the issues at each level and that I believe helped them also think about ways to resolve issues faced at each level of the process. And the key was to think about them, process suggestions by others and make the correct judgements about how things can be better.

3. Hire hungry people : Given the amount of food we used to eat, in all my jobs, it seemed true always :-) across all bosses. But the more important part was to hire people who were all hungry for success, achievement, growth etc. I can say half my bosses could manage to do this to multiple levels of success and once you could put this restless lot together then you had created an environment for success without any effort, they would all do it themselves.

This also gave me a lot of opportunity to work with great people who had lots of interesting ways of looking at the same problem and helped me broaden my knowledge base.

I will continue this post in a series and if you agree to some of these and have good experiences then would love to get your opinions on the same.

In the next post will add the next 3 qualities I have admired in my bosses.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Game Theory

I read this on my friend Abhinav Sinha's blog ( and found this to be an interesting explanation.

Game Theory :

While driving around the India gate, have you ever wondered why most (if not all) ice cream vendors are stacked together in and around a small patch. Or that most highway ‘dhabas’ are located in clusters. Or maybe, next time when you fly out do check why various airlines schedule flights fairly close to each other, on a given route!

It comes to me as a surprise why would each one of them choose to operate in a zone of maximum competition. Maybe a possible explanation is that since the cluster is already frequented by a lot of potential customers, it makes sense for a new entrant to logically attach itself to the cluster, rather than someplace else, where he would have to invest in building customer traffic.

The question to be answered is how the clustering begins. What would the scenario be like if there was a unchartered territory and just two players in perfect competition. Does system thinking in any way influence the way, they would approach setting up their respective businesses.

Consider a scenario where the two ice-cream vendors A and B, who have to sell their products at similar pricing for sustenance, have to decide on where to locate themselves on a stretch of road, that will make perfect business sense.

To capture the sense of this example, imagine that customers are smoothly distributed all across the road and brand and price being the same for both A and B, they choose on the basis of sheer convenience and proximity.

Imagine that the two vendors ‘A’ and ‘B’ start by locating themselves at roughly a position shown above. It now appears to ‘A’, that they have a equitable access to business opportunity, since half of customers located between ‘A’ and ‘B’ will go to ‘A’ and the other half to ‘B’, depending on a convenient walking distance for them.

‘A’ turns out to be an aggressive competitor to ‘B’ and decides to move a 100 meters towards the center of the road so as to gain access to a share of ‘B’ customers while protecting his own share of customers (lying to his left).

To offset this, ‘B’ plays his own counter move and moves 200meters towards the center. Subsequently, ‘A’ moves 300 meters and this continues till both ‘A’ and ‘B’ are located right next to each other, at the center of the road.

Both A and B have created an equilibrium that stays even when a third player C enters the market. C has limited choice, but to locate itself within the cluster for survival.

This is of course until C weighs his payoffs and decides to locate at a niche location and offset the disadvantage by offering a discounted price to the customers. This of course will set up another un-equilibrium which in due course will be answered by the competition A and B.

The study of strategic decisions making process in an interactive environment is called ‘The Game Theory’.