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A dreamer to the core. A thinker. A writer. A marketer. A poet. A management guru in the making! A keen observer of business, organizations, leaders, society, economic environment, consumers, and innovation. A confirmed maverick who loves to turn conventional wisdom upside down!

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Surviving in Times of Massive Change

"In times of massive change, it is the learner who will inherit the earth, while the learned stay foolishly tied to a world that no longer exists." - Eric Hoffer

This is one thought on which every executive must ponder upon, particularly those who are on the wrong side of age. This is a very relevant thought for the present times when almost everything in business, technology, and society is undergoing massive change. Unfortunately, many of the experienced people fail to recognize these massive changes and how these changes, many a time, make their vast experience and learning meaningless.

By failing to adapt to the new realities, they keep themselves and their organization stuck in the past. When things demand radically different way of managing things, these learned people keep on applying the old tricks and tactics that may have worked in the past but have become pre-historic in context to present and future. More often than not things never seem to work. Instead of making any progress, things seem to move backward.

In these times, only those survive who see themselves as life-long learner and continue learning new things to tame present and future. Those who think they have had enough learning, fail all along.

The key to survival and growth is to cultivate LFA, the acronym coined by me which means "Learning Focused Attitude."

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Nuggets of Management Wisdom #17

Rate of growth up the corporate hierarchy is directly proportional to the rate of growth of one's skills at critical questioning.

Visualize this scenario: I go to my boss fully prepared. After hearing me he asks a few questions, some of which I never thought existed, and I and my plans are floored. I think my boss is very smart. After an hour, I accompany my boss to the cabin of his boss to discuss a proposal. My super boss asks a few questions to my boss, some of which he never thought existed, and he squirms in his chair. I guess he must be feeling the same way I felt when his questions floored me!

This was one of the corporate eureka moments that I sometimes hit upon. Someone is your boss because he can ask better questions than you. Corollary, if you want to step into your boss' shoes, consciously upgrade your skills at critical questioning.

Of course, critical questioning has a lot to do with experience. But at the same time, I have noticed that skills at critical questioning can be remarkably improved by consciously asking "why" again and again. "Why" is perhaps one of the most powerful words of management but often quite underestimated and underutilized.

If you want to rapidly move up the corporate ladder, you should sharpen your skills at asking incisive and unexpected questions. Your best friend in this endeavour would be the power of "why". Never accept anything as perfect. There is always some scope for improvement and value addition. Consciously ask "why" all the time and you would be surprised to see yourself on the fast track.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Growing Marketer Customer Disconnect

Two weeks ago, I was at a dealer relationship meeting. After the usual stuff of entertainment, the dealers were updated on latest happenings in the company and how they were going to make the company achieve greater heights in coming years. Though I could feel that they were least interested in that and more inclined to know what gifts and prizes were there for them. Post that, latest TV advertisements were shown to the esteemed audience and to everyone's surprise, majority of dealers couldn't understand the latest TV ad that was getting critical review across creative circles!! To get the Ad entry into their brain, Head of Marketing had to explain the Ad which meant rendering a laymen's version of some universal concepts of science. Whew!

This led me to think -
  1. Are we, marketers and our better halves (advertising agencies), getting away from realities of life?
  2. Are we making advertisements to justify our own grand views of the world and customers instead of telling a story to build brand and increase sales?
  3. In the name of creativity, are we forgetting our target audience?
A cursory look at the current breed of advertisements would tell the truth. The fact is that 80% of the advertisements doing the rounds on TV are useless as far as their primary role of story telling to sell a brand is concerned. Some are so bad that I wonder whether the brand manager and advertising agency worked on the advertisements in their sleep. And then they call them clutter breaking commercials!!

Seeing the current crop of advertisements on TV, I often wonder whether our advertising is progressing or regressing.

Whatever may be the case, one thing is certain that we are seeing a spurt in population of what I call "apartment managers", the special breed of managers who see world in terms of the apartment complex they live in! The result is increasing myopic vision about customers. The end result is often - an advertisement or a marketing campaign that validates perceptions of our own little world but is far away from the realities of larger world.

Isn't it time for the brand managers and advertising people to spend more time meeting customers, understand their way of thinking and doing things, and walk for a while in their shoes to get an inner glimpse of their lives? Doing this instead of plotting marketing and advertising strategy to fit their "apartment view of world" would bear more fruits and would bring the marketer much closer to his customers.

By the way, any guesses about what proportion of Indian population must be aware of gravitational force of earth?

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