Monthly Archives: May 2003


On ISTT I wrote this:

Cognitive and rational decision making as marketing guys know better
than anyone (HR guys included!) comes a piddly second to the power of
emotional/aspirational appeal !

So how can cold rational logical data like “not being good for
health” compete with a message like “wanna be cool…have x/y/z” ??

Free choice did someone say?

How can choice be free when media is controlled by advertisers and
therefore information that goes out either ignores the ‘bad’ parts or
is heavily edited ??


In HRavenues I wrote the following on the discussion if HR was a necessary evil !
Let’s admit it, HR’s credibility has been in question over a long
time not just in India but across the world. People like Dave Ulrich
have even studied what HR needs to do to become more “value-adding”
to the business rather than being an operational department.

While there are many reasons for this, the prime reason has been the
rise of an economy where people’s imaginations and ideas are critical
to an organizations growth. Capital and finance does not count for

HR stands at a threshold today.

Of all organizational functions it apparently understands the people
more than other functions. If it cannot translate that understanding
and insight into value for the organization then it will lose even
the apparently low levels of credibility it has today.

But to do that it needs to marry its insight with the needs of the
business. An HR person no longer can be ‘just’ an HR person. He/she
should be a generalist, with ease of understanding the financial and
customer perspectives. The future belongs to those business leaders
who know the cross-functional perspective and are not ‘wedded’ to any


In the KMSI group

Well, KM is understood differently by different organizations, and
leads on to different deliverables.

For example, Buckman laboratories had a objective of increasing their
IP by doing KM …Hughes had a different objective, and BP-Amoco had
different aims.

The key to KM success, in my humble opinion, is to set a objective
that is central to the organization and then build KM processes
around achieving that objective.

So if reducing time of proposals is the KM objective in the next 3-4
months then that objective if shared with all the employees would be
a measurable low-hanging fruit. Very often, if such an objective is
not shared then KM initiatives like creating yellow pages, and
sharing of documents etc are nice to do, but not percieved as

Another point to keep in mind is that the objective if clashing with
the existing organizational culture would be a recipe for disaster.

So, if current performance reward systems are based on business units
achieving the target, and the KM objective is to share knowledge
across business units, then you can see which one will fail, unless
the reward system for latter are greater than that of the former.


On ISTT My post :

What gives us Indians an edge in this world is a paradoxical ability
to balance the super-structured with the totally ambiguous !

In my view, no other civilisation (Jung would call it the ‘collective
unconscious of a people’), save the Japanese, drills in both the
factors to such an amazing degree. So you have the example of a
Ramanujam who excelled in the so called structured world of maths
relying on mysticism and intuition.

So what, I hear you ask? What does this psycho-babble have to do with strategy? with business? with India Inc.?

Look around you ! The structured world of business as Taylor, Ford
and Sloan knew it is falling (or has fallen) like a house of
cards…and the domino effect is happening around the world. In these
chaotic times the skills that are needed most are the duality to
balance the chaos of the environment with order and structure of the
organization…and yet not be rigid !

The rise of the Knowledge Age…Drucker called it…when individual
expertise is the most coveted…in the Financial Analyst industry
(the “new Jews” is what Indian whiz kids are called on Wall Street),
in the Software industry (too numerous to chronicle), in the still
developing discipline of Management (CKP, Rajat Gupta, Sumantro
Ghosal, Ram Charan are uber-gurus!)

I believe the skills that help us succeed in these diverse fields are embedded in us, in our psyches.


The Continuing McKinsey Mystique says:
‘Positioning’ is indeed a key differentiator. The firm goes to incredible lengths to gain the confidence of decision makers in what it believes will be large or strongly growing markets in five years’ time or more. That is why McKinsey has been making a strong push in countries such as China and India, which cannot possibly be justified in terms of the immediate return, but which may be looking good when we all grow a little older. The partnership structure helps. ‘Gratification or profit deferred’ is not a phrase that actually rolls off the lips of McKinsey’s top staff when describing their willingness to look to the long term; but it would be just about unthinkable for publicly-quoted firms to take the same long-term view.