December 10, 2014

Ideal Sales Trainer for India Market

Recently the CEO of India IT major Infosys lamented that the Indian executives don't speak up and they chose to follow the instructions given by the superiors. Well an overwhelming majority of Vishal Sikka’s counterparts in India inc may differ with him profusely, not on the nature of Indian Managers, but about the undesirability of such an attitude among the executives. In traditional segmented society of India where India Inc is firmly in the stone carved hands of few families & castes since 1947 employees are treated like slaves and the business owners lord over their subjects just like the benevolent mai-baap would in the nineteenth century.

Millions of bright young women & men join India Inc every year upon graduation, subsequently failing to migrate abroad or ensconce themselves in the hallowed civil services,   just to be discovering that silence & compliance are the two major virtues over skills, attitude and hard work for a successful career.   Silently complying with orders from the top may not result in great productive work for progress of the company but it keeps the boss happy and the subordinate in the job. Therefore good executives prefer to follow instructions and off the nerve wrecking journey to find a new elusive job in India.

Dr Manmohan Singh in 90s brought in a welcome change to the moribund tradition bound Indian society and infused a new spirit of freedom in the economic activity. The liberalization of government controls on the commerce had its domino effect on how the India Inc behaved and operated till then since 1947.  MBA graduates were catapulted to numero uno position suddenly as most desired professionals for leading the India Inc to new heights.  Unfortunately India Inc since then has returned to pre 1990s behavior & approach to management. That’s why innovations, skills and creativity have evaporated from amongst the existing management pool in India which is the prime mover of economic growth.  Subservient & complaint managers can’t think out of the box.

India need to set up dedicated national institute for Sales Management which could provide training and orientation to Sales Managers. The USA has been built by the Travelling Salesmen, how India affords to ignore such a critical skill? An ideal sales trainer is a guy who keeps her/his feet firmly on the street and head in the boardrooms so as to bridge the chasm between the two ends of the commerce. Sales trainer can motivate the teams by working with them on the street as often as s/he would bring them into the classroom and listen to the feedback. Since India is large, disorganized, scattered & developing market it needs trainers who could help the executives focus on a particular segment while avoiding the curse of tunnel vision. 

Training is like a game, a demanding sport that requires regular preparation before every winning performance on the field. India Inc needs to allow more open environment from the street to the boardroom so that innovation could keep flowing in like a cool breeze for a healthy bottom-line. 

September 5, 2014

Print Media is run by duds !

Print media may be shrinking in developed countries but not in India. Actually print media in India is growing at a healthy double digit CAGR while shrinking worldwide especially in the developed world. If you wonder why India is an anachronism as compared to the rest of the world, well the answer lies in the character & attitude of the citizens of India who comprise the country inhabited by many separate nations based on cultural & religious identities.

For example telecom markets in all the major countries are made up of disproportionately large share of post paid subscribers whereas in India it is dominated by pre-paid customers. Moreover India is the only country that has been ruled by ‘foreigners‘for the longest period in human history. Indians are unique people with very interesting characteristics but that I would discuss some other time. Let’s have a look at what ails Indian print media industry.

Print & electronic media in general exploded & grew exponentially in early 90s and the advertising revenues kept showing a healthy trend till 2007 when the global meltdown happened that resulted in shrinking of advtg budgets like scales on the back of a porcupine. But the signs of stagnation of advertising revenues could be noticed in early towards the beginning of the twenty-first century as innovations in marketing of advertising space almost died completely.

Traditionally the advertising was marketed by newspapers mainly through the advertising agencies and some publishing majors looked down upon any effort at marketing the newspapers to advertisers owing to vain journalistic pride. Although most publishers & editors took sides of vested interest groups involved in politics & commerce but the journalist kept pretense that they are the fourth pillar of democracy in India which they agree is one of the most corrupt country on the face of the earth. Well while journalists sashayed up & down the political corridors singing ‘we are the savior of democracy’ pop song the media houses partook huge gifts of prime real estate & government advertising etc from the government.

When the economy opened up for the first time by India’s most honest and scholarly Finance Minster till date, Dr Manmohan Singh, the selling became a good word & print media recruited large in-house sales teams to market their products to trade buyers & end customers. This was the period when the management professionals begin to call the shots in running of the media firms which were dominated by journalists with ideas like a long editorial piece.

This explosive growth in media fuelled the growth in other sectors of economy as the new breed of trained Sales Management professionals from the field of media management were lapped up by other services firm particularly the telecom. In my opinion media can play a critical role in economic progress of a developing market but governments are oblivious to its potential. This growth phase was marked by numerous innovations to serve a variety of media buyers & advertisers.

Unfortunately once the media houses cornered the benefits of growth the publishers refused to acknowledge the stellar contributions made by some great media managers and ejected the professionals who made the media revolution possible. Every media analyst in India knows the couple of great media managers who led the growth of media in India. Point is, since the beginning of twenty-first century media lost its appetite for innovations. I would be surprised if any media house can claim to have infused culture of innovation in its teams so as to delight the customers with greater return on advertising spend every time. Print media has huge opportunities to grow and benefit from deluge of digital online space.  But to make that happen, media houses have to hire train & nurture marketing & sales leaders capable of producing innovation like the rabbits from magician’s hat. If you any have doubt that there is no scope for innovations in media marketing try sit with me with lots of black coffee, you would love to pick the tab. 

July 18, 2014

Has India chosen a clever & lazy bunch of leaders in 2014?

 “In my business of research, economies of scale don’t exist” says Franz Huner CEO & Chairman of the Swiss Pharma giant Roche. According to Hurner, Competitive advantage lies in the ability to create an economy driven not by the cost efficiencies but by ideas and intellectual know-how. Therefore the task of a great leader is to create an environment in which ‘clever people’ can thrive. These people are the handful of persons whose ideas, knowledge and skills give them the potential to produce disproportionate value from the resources provided to them. [Source HBR]

Martin Sorrell, CEO WPP, a leading most communications services firm in the world also backs creativity over capital for greater returns on investment, says,”One of the biggest challenges is that there are diseconomies of scale in creative industries. If you double the number of creative people, it doesn’t mean you will be twice as creative.” Reminiscent of too many cooks spoil the broth? One defining characteristic of clever people is that they do not want to be led, a red alert for you leaders. Clever people don’t plan their pension; they know their value and expect everyone to recognize it.

The bad news is that all the resources and systems in the world are useless unless you have clever people to make the most of them.  As per Hammerstein-Equord view people can be divided into four groups based on their behavioral habits:
There are clever, diligent, stupid and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. So the groups are set as follows:
  • Clever and diligent
  • Stupid and lazy
  • Clever & lazy
  • Stupid and diligent 
Who would be the most undesirable group that must be avoided? Certainly the ‘stupid & diligent’ must be avoided and not entrusted with any responsibility as they will always cause only mischief. And the clever & lazy qualify to for the highest leadership duties, because the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for challenging tasks would benefit for great positive outcomes.  Erich von Manstein was regarded as one of Germany’s best military strategist during World War II and Kurt Gebhard Adolf Philipp Freigerr von Hammerstein – Equord was Germany’s Chief of the Army High Command before Second World War.

India has twin advantage of political stability and relative democracy but faces enormous challenges of culture war led by Hindutva lobby, poverty, and population.  The rising inequality in incomes can’t be camouflaged with strident Hindu nationalism. Indian elections present an opportunity to people to select the desirable class of leaders to take India forward. 

The mass media due to its structure and the lack of knowledge & circumstances have never educated the voters about what type of leaders people should elect that would help India march forward and develop a competitive advantage. Justice Katju, head of Press Council had warned Indians about the poor quality of journalists in India and the need for citizens to avoid voting on identity factors and chose merit for sake of progress. But Indians & the mainstream media swept aside his views and got itself a new set of leaders. The quality of life in a country depends upon the leaders it elect. India has failed once again to elect a bunch that can take it forward. 

April 25, 2014

Need for Branding Higher Education

You would agree that the self financing universities & technical education institutes, both private & public, in India are going through consolidation phase post a rapid mushroom growth. Due to slowdown of economy, intense competition & regulatory bottlenecks many higher education players are facing serious challenges. Continuous decline in student intake numbers & rising costs require immediate solutions for the long term survival of this critical sector of economy.

Though corporatization of education in India has yet not been allowed but many major education brands are using commercial marketing principles, concepts & tools to attract students & other stake holders to them. But most institutes are unable to benefit from strategic marketing due to absence of a full time marketing director to take care of this critical function. The regulatory bodies of higher & professional education, UGC, AICTE, MCI etc, not only discourage use of marketing but also don’t make it mandatory for all self financing institutes to employ a professional marketing manager on the campus. How can an education enterprise succeed without proper marketing in the times when religion to politics use marketing to further their cause?

Every self financing education enterprise must either have an in-house marketing team or outsource the critical task to some outside professional agency. To fill this very gap, AnahadMC offer services to assist your management in creating & implementing of a customized marketing strategy.

Major challenge facing this sector is lack of branding. Despite existence of private players in education sector at all levels for a considerable long period in India not many private institute have been able to create brand equity higher than that of public sector autonomous institutes. The problem of branding in not peculiar to education sector alone, it’s pervasive in other commercial & not for profit enterprises as well. The mother of all questions is how to create a brand in the education sector? Let us admit that the advertising is not the chief vehicle for marketing in all the marketing scenarios.

 It’s well accepted that unless an institute presents itself as a brand to the students it may have to struggle a lot to be the first preference for the brand conscious youth of 21st century India. Branding exercise is a critical factor in success or failure of institutes with full & partial enrolment record as market forces continue to change the game each year.

Some characteristics that determine the brand equity of an education enterprise:
1.   Years in operation
2.   Size of campus
3.   Placements
4.   Affiliations
5    International relations
6.   Faculty quality
7.   Number of courses
8.   Affiliations

If you want to go beyond the generic factors to create a differentiated brand for your enterprise that fits seamlesly to the target please drop us an email at and we would get back to you within one working day. Let's make India an education powerhouse. 

February 26, 2014

Semiotics of 2014 Gen Election in India & Lord of The Flies

There is a shocking uncanny resemblance of the 2014 India election scene with the William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’. The hunter wants to dominate the weak social order incapable of producing excellence. But unfortunately, unlike in the book, India has no luxury of a foreign messiah rescuing it from the chaos. Will India pay the price & submit meekly to the hunter, as it has on innumerable occasions in pre & post 1947, for its lack of social order capable of producing excellent public order & society?

The antagonist in the Lord of the Flies, Jack, older of the boys left stranded on a deserted island in wake of raging war in the developed world, lacks love & affection for others and he tries to make that up with offers of security & food. In the struggle for acceptance, Jack wins the largest following among the disparate group afraid of its survival & redemption, by persuasion & force both.

In India Narendra Modi wants majority India to support him despite his management of 2002 Gujarat riots. Modi almost resembles Jack who is adept at manipulating others, represents the base instinct of savagery within all human beings, in contrast to civilizing instinct of Ralph, the protagonist.  

Another major character in the LOTF is Piggy, a whining intellectual boy, who represents the scientific, rational side of the civilization, like media & couple of experts therein. The Jacks of the chaotic democracies know that characters like Piggy pose no threat to their dictatorship dream but also help them project a liberal side for publicity, a camouflage. Media in India is like the Piggy.

The chief protagonist in LOTF is Ralph, who is younger to Jack and has backing of the majority in the beginning. Rahul Gandhi campaign is trying to project him as the leader who promises a just civil society capable of delivering all that is promised by the Jack, and with a humane face. Although  some may disagree with my opinion and would like to paint Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Adami Party as the true hero of India’s enactment of LOTF 2014 edition.

Most outside India, who don’t know the Hindutva character of India, find it difficult to understand why a two term Prime Minster of India , a humble, suave sophisticated & brilliant economist Dr Manmohan Singh don’t have same adulation & following within India as abroad?  Well Dr Manmohan Singh is a Sikh & majority of Hindus are not yet ready to accept a non-Hindu as PM of India, even beyond 1947.

President Obama is elected by people of the USA and hence represents their collective morality. On the contrary, Dr Manmohan Singh can’t win an election despite being the PM of India. Simon in the LOFT is the only person whose sense of morality does not seem to have been imposed by the society. Simon represents natural goodness, in contrast to unbridled evil of Jack & imposed morality of civilization represented by Ralph & Piggy.  A Simon can’t be first past the post in contest for power.

Akali Dal & Shiv Sena are to BJP what Sam and Eric are to Jack in the LOTF. Congress too has its own band of likeminded parties that support it for from time to time based on mutually profitable terms that has nothing to do with development of India. Those who have read LOTF would see many characters like Roger, in Indian political scene too, who are willing to kill for a consideration.

Although many Indians believe that India is no island and it is a super power or going to be superpower which has lot of respect in the world but when they travel abroad their dream gets shattered. India is still like an island that needs to work hard to grow into a continent of power and so it must choose wisely. The Ralphs may not look strong with enough killer instincts but such characters give promise of a just & civilized society which can integrate itself with rest of humanity on the planet. A Jack can hack well but they should be contained to some island for sake of humanity.

February 6, 2014

Media the fourth pillar or just for Chillar?

Media pride itself as a critical component of a functioning democracy. It enjoys vast powers in the name of being the guardian of citizen’s rights & interests from mighty powerful governments.  Media claims to be the watchdog of people in a republic. But is it possible for privately owned, advertising revenue funded media to keep the interests of democracy and citizens ahead of their own avowed aim of profit maximization & business?  You would doubt.

Let’s examine the media thesis of being a public service for strengthening of democracy in a republic. In order to analyze the myth of media being a public service it would be appropriate to study its conduct during most critical period of elections in democracy. How media contributes, influence or obstructs election process can reveal its true intentions and therefore nature.

Media in India competes for vast advertising & promotion budgets of political players.  There is no harm in fair competition but media do not treat political advertising at par with other advertising. If media want to further the cause of democracy in a republic then what is the rationale to charge premium over normal advertising tariff? Moreover if commercial advertiser gets credit then why deny same facility for political advertising? Why should media organizations be allowed to charge higher tariff & cash terms for political advertisements meant to educate citizens and make informed choices? Profit maximization on public service advertising is criminal and anti-democratic.

Media monsters charge lower than commercial tariff on many categories of advertisements but during elections time they go for kill and bring a variety of wrongful pressures on political players for maximum share of advertising budget.  The Election Commission of India must intervene and order the media to charge lowest advertising tariff close to DAVP rates as election advertising has no commercial objective.  

Indian media is a unique beast. It has no resemblances to anyone else in any democratic country on the earth. The unregulated media doesn’t serve the nation, governments or citizens and places the profit maximization motive of its owners foremost.  India must stop it & tame the beast. Media enjoys vast benefits in India but its actions are directed at collecting chillar [Money] than working as fourth pillar of democracy. 

January 7, 2014

2014 Gen Elections: Politics of Anger Management

Bharat experienced slow economic & social progress, often described as a Hindu rate of growth, for most periods since 1947, when the British left India, until the present PM of India Dr Manmohan Singh, an economist, was discovered by distraught political leaders & handed over the critical task of managing economy.  Since 47, the caste-religion minded political class in India thought it imprudent to hand over the important ministries in union cabinet to professionals on merit alone without factoring in their social class.

The Chalta-hai & Aya-Ram-Gaya- Ram approach to politics in Bharat pushed it into turmoil by a staccato fix it style handling of economic policies. The trial & error attitude adopted by ruling elite led to chaos and brought it on the verge of exploding internally due to poverty, hunger & slow haphazard growth, as if the socio-political leaders had no choice available in front of them in operation in the West & Asia. Since the political elite were busy managing vote banks, the three other pillars of democracy decided to serve their own selfish interests than that of the citizens.

Bharat experienced rapid economic development much later than even south-Asian countries, due to reforms introduced by Dr Manmohan Singh & emulated by others. But this growth has tapered once again & may soon degenerate into pre-Manmohan- Singh- era level. Growth by itself is useless unless it is in right direction.  Cancerous growth looks amazing, in color pictures. A growth movement without direction does serious long term damage to a society because it can’t help one arrive at the desired destination.

The world has long accepted & imbibed the truth of best man for the job approach but Bharat continues to live by the rank opposite philosophy of any adult can do every job. That’s why you see exponents of yoga, a traditional physiotherapy regimen, lecture seasoned economists & industrialists on how to run economy & industry.  That is sure recipe for a long period of directionless Hindu rate of growth in Bharat.  Never been to school brand of swamis are not the major reason for chaos in Bharat. It’s the lack of right quantity of quality leaders that hurts most.

Though INC would have preferred to have another PM in 2009, in place of Dr Manmohan Singh, to balance various religious identities for compulsions of electoral politics, but Sonia Gandhi perhaps had limited choice to replace Dr Singh. But the second term as Prime Minister to a humble honest clean scholar from Sikh community has not helped political fortunes of Congress Party in mainly Hindu-heartland states in Bharat.

Political parties In Bharat seems to have divided along secular versus communal chasm. But this divide is facile as most political players keep trotting to either side as per convenience. The Congress party often calls its opponent BJP a communal party, but the majority population doesn't see much difference between the two. Bhajpa became a formidable political force by leveraging the Hindu pride. LK Advani led movement for construction of Hindu temple at the place of Mosque bore sweet fruits in India that prided itself of being a secular state different from religion based Pakistan & Nepal.  Advani & Vajpaye didn’t spend a single day in jail for leading the Hindu pride movement of Ram Temple and were rewarded by top leadership positions in the secular republic of Bharat. On the contrary, Shiromani Akali Dal, a party of Sikhs in Punjab, has not been lucky, as its leaders had to suffer a lot in the politics of Sikh pride.  

It is incorrect to credit BJP for resurrection of Hindu pride movement. The seeds of it were sown much earlier during the British raj. If triumvirate of Gandhi, Nehru & Patel had shown foresight by refusing to undertake construction of Somnath temple on priority in newly independent India and focused on economic matters alone perhaps India would have been a super power by now ahead of China? It confounds many why they took such a step when Europe & Asia were into thick of anti-religious sentiment fuelled by socialist revolution? Did India err in anger management of Hindus who were forced to live under non-Hindu empires for thousands of years?

Hindu supremacist organizations like RSS [Sangh] don’t condemn demolition of Babri mosque, Operation Bluestar, major riots of 84, 92 & 2002 etc in which minorities of Bharat suffered enormously. Most often such incidents are justified by Hindu political class as genuine acceptable reactions to atrocities inflicted on majority Hindus by minority Sikhs & Muslims. No Hindu politician has ever gone to jail for participating in such tragic carefully planned attacks on minorities in Bharat, though leaders & professionals from minorities have been routinely punished by various courts or mere suspicion alone. Chief Minister Punjab S Parkash Singh Badal has spent 17 years in jails as political prisoner, second only to Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela.

While India was busy managing the Hindu-angst, China raced ahead to become a global power of enormous magnitude. Despite huge population, equal to China, Bharat wins far few Olympic medals, Nobel awards and Oscars etc.  Wonder why don’t Bharat use available fora to stamp its strength on global scene?   The industry, with exception of few, still find it difficult to inculcate competencies required for success despite decades of protection, catalyzed further by liberalization ushered in by Dr Manmohan Singh. Failure of domestic industry majors, despite protections against global competition, in organized retail is clear proof of their lack of managerial strengths.

History is not created by those students who want stars on each page they write from every teacher no matter what. But by those who study very hard & work harder. Narendra Modi, CM Gujarat, a representative of RSS-BJP Hindu philosophy wants to be next PM of India in 2014 to, as he says so loudly and repeatedly, to rid India of economic mess created by Dr Manmohan Singh led government & put an end to pseudo-secular politics in India. He wants to make India like Gujarat that he claims is a model state in the world.

But is he the best man for the job or an average guy who will ask others to work for him & produce excellence? Can a good administrator be a great inventor or economist or engineer? Media has projected N Modi as a control freak, certainly not known for giving freedom to the team, a prerequisite for germination & nurture of excellence. Will Bharat once again opt for placating ‘outraged Hindus’ looking for suitable route for anger management by electing N. Modi? Could emergence of Aam Admi Party provide an alternative to India to vent its frustrations and take India forward towards a respectable image of a global democracy?  Perhaps the Congress party understands that India & Bharat are angry but it doesn't seem to appreciate who is more & why. 

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