Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Old Dhaka – A city within the City

A city of massive traffic congestions and history! Over 20 million people it is the most thickly populated city in South Asia.

This is my second trip to Dhaka, capital city of Bangladesh. During my last stay, I did not find time to explore the city. But this time I was determined to do a bit of traveling in the old part of Dhaka.

After a busy day with board members and senior staff at Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BWCCI), the primer business association on South Asia serving over 2500 women entrepreneurs across Bangladesh, where I was working with them in developing a Strategic Plan, I hit the road on an auto-rickshaw (called CNG here because it uses compressed natural gas as fuel). My guide was Mehdi Hasan, Training and Capacity building Officer from BWCCI. Mehdi’s seven month old son was sick today, and he came to work a little late, but he happily took me on this trip to old Dhaka, where he lived during his childhood. He is after all a South Asian, you know, we are full of hospitality and respect.

CNG took us to the closest intersection to the old part, but due to a procession that was celebrating Hasina Wajid’s return to Bangladesh (it is an annual event), we got down and crossed the road to take a bicycle rickshaw. It was my first time in this environment friendly vehicle pulled by a skinny man, I asked him if he is a local resident. No, they come to Dhaka only to make some money, with an average income of about 300-400 Taka, of which 80 Taka goes to the owner of rickshaw; they hardly make enough to survive! But this is the most effective way of traveling short distances in the city.

So Old Dhaka – almost all residents of old Dhaka were Pakistanies, means non Bengalies. After separation from Pakistan in 1971, they opted to stay in Bangladesh and are still called Pakistani. This is not strange for me, because those Bengali families, which stayed back in Pakistan, are still called Bengali.

Crocked and narrow streets of old Dhaka reminded me of old Lahore, red brick tall buildings were quite similar to inner Lahore. One could smell Kacha Biryani from a distance (meat biryani, very similar to Palo Rice). Small shops were making puri and kachoori. Our rickshaw puller knew I am a foreigner, in expectation of reasonable reward; he gave us a big round of the area. We passed through wholesale markets selling auto parts, bicycles, food grains etc. I saw many small food vendors selling noodles and peeled cucumber, which were fully poised with dust and other pollutants!

It indeed was an experience. Old Dhaka is a different city within the city.

Most interestingly I was told to keep only little cash in the pocket, CNG rickshaw have doors that one needs to keep locked (fear of snatching!) and Mehdi said “You look different”!

It was a trip, I can never forget. My thanks to Mehdi for taking time out for this unforgettable experience.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Poor Service – Poor Rating

The secret ingredient for a successful airline is its service quality.

After having traveled in Emirates, Qatar, Thai, Itehad, you get used to a high quality Business Class experience. Nice, comfortable and modern seats, excellent meals, both in quality as well as quality.

However United Airlines is yet to learn the actual meanings of Business Class! Experience UA977, a 14 hours direct flight from Dubai to Washington DC. The flight leaves at mid-night Dubai and lands in the US at around 7am. You would like to get enough sleep to allow you going to work around mid-day.

Forget about this if you have taken UA977…. Business Class is comparable to an Economy+! Still operating with manual seat controls, the leg room and seat alignment does not provide Business Class comfort.

After the recently becoming a single company, Continental and United together with United Express, Continental Express and Continental Connection, operate an average of 5,820 flights a day to 373 airports on six continents. However US Airlines are not in good financial shape.

The US's eight largest airline companies (counting United Airlines and Continental Airlines as one and Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways separately) incurred a collective 2011 first-quarter net loss of $1.01 billion, ATW calculated. The deficit was slightly widened from a net loss of $985.7 million in the 2010 March quarter as rising fuel costs offset strong revenue gains. With these financials, one should not expect any major service quality uplift program, at least in the medium term.

Choice is yours, but I would opt for other options!

Markets Suffer as IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn Arrested

“IMF will remain fully functional and operational” – Caroline Atkinson, IMF Spokesperson.

This weekend’s biggest news hit the media that reported the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Head of International Monetary Fund.

He is expected to plead not guilty at his arraignment Monday, following allegations that the Frenchman sexually assaulted a maid in a swank New York City hotel. According to an account the woman provided to police, Kahn emerged from the bathroom naked, chased her down a hallway and pulled her into a bedroom, where he began to sexually assault her. She said she fought him off, then he dragged her into the bathroom, where he forced her to perform oral sex on him and tried to remove her underwear. The woman was able to break free again and escaped the room and told hotel staff what had happened and police was called.

Anne Sinclair, who is a TV journalist and wife of Kahn said "I do not believe for one second the accusations brought against my husband. I have no doubt his innocence will be established,"

In 2008, Dominique was investigated over whether he had an improper relationship with a subordinate female employee. The IMF board found that the relationship was consensual, but called his actions "regrettable" and said they "reflected a serious error of judgment."

BUT markets have felt the jolts!

Gold prices kicked off the week on a softer note Monday, as the dollar gained following the news of Dominique’s arrest. Gold for June dropped $3.20 to $1,490.30 an ounce in electronic trading on Monday. Silver prices also weakened, with silver for July delivery dropping 36 cents to $34.65 an ounce!
Europe is also worried, Kahn had been one of the key players working to address Europe’s debt crisis. The euro has suffered, falling 7 weeks low. Asian shares took a dip over concerns about European sovereign debt woes.
Watch for developing news on media.

Are there Investment Opportunities during Economic Downturn?

A public opinion poll is no substitute for thought. Of the billionaires I have known, money just brings out the basic traits in them. If they were jerks before they had money, they are simply jerks with a billion dollars. Warren Buffett

The world economy is in recession! For a long time, we have been hearing this statement from friends, governments, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Central Banks etc. Real Estate Market is down; stocks are in shamble, mutual funds made huge losses, be careful hold on to your liquidity, do not make foolish investment decisions – have been the grapevine around coffee tables, pubs and golf courses.

Having said above, there are many financially literate opportunists that were able to crack business deals worth billions of Dollars. One recent example is $ 8.5 billion Skype buyout deal by Microsoft Corporation. If the times are challenging, I wonder why aggressive corporate entrepreneurs are making new investments, from where are they making money and parking it in money making opportunities?

Perhaps they are the intelligent once and are able to interpret the insights of businesses with open minds and turn these challenges into opportunities. They are able to tap into hidden opportunities, no matter how bad the economic indicators are. Or they are planting seeds today in the hope or sweet fruit in the times to come?

I was training a group of senior businessmen, and ethos of my session was “Investment Opportunities”. Although, belonging from wealthy business families, it was a depressed bunch of people. At least for the first hour of my session, I kept challenging their ability to improve upon their superficial way to looking at opportunities, and some of them started reacting! Off course I was expecting that.

After coffee break, said, if the business climate around you is so sickly, why are you in still in business? The fact is that your respective businesses are sustaining economic pressures; you are employing staff, producing goods, competing with other market players, paying for your luxuries. I went on and said:

“You are managing your business well. The only thing that is missing in the equation is your boldness to start investing in opportunities”.

They were astonished and started realizing the fact! Let’s discuss how you define opportunities, I said. They were thrilled, and over the next five hours the group came-up with a number of potential investment opportunities.

In my view, the general notion of being careful turns in to being lethargic during the time when economies are slow. But those with ability to understand that challenge are always willing to take calculated risks and are often successful!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Anthony Robbins’ Elements of Leadership and Peak Performance

I was touched by Anthony Robbins’ following quote:

“I was 11 years old when a man I'd never seen gifted my family with a huge basket of Thanksgiving goodies we couldn't afford ourselves. In that moment I came upon a new meaning—strangers care. Soon after, I created the Basket Brigade to bring hope and food to those who need it most.”

Anthony Robbins, a great speaker, author and specialist in peak performance has been actively assisting leaders for over 30 years in sharpening their leadership skills. He has spoken in front of more than 3 million people around the world and sold around 35 million books and audio coaching products.

He is also a strong believer in giving back to the society. Anthony Robbins’ Foundation, a non-profit initiative feeds about three million people in 56 countries every year through its international holiday “Basket Brigade”.

Established in 1991, The Foundation programs have impacted more than 2,000 schools, 700 prisons, and 100,000 health and human service organizations. Foundation’s main focus is improving quality of life for children, the homeless, the prison population, and the elderly. Anthony uses funds raised by his book sale, public speaking engagements and live events to support his initiatives.

To me Anthony’s personality impresses people around him with his positivity. This positivity brings about the power to excel and power to succeed, two elements that create leadership and ensure peak performance.

Anthony, keep inspiriting the world!

Watch an Anthony Robbins’ excellent video I found for you:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Think Insights – Google Tools for Marketers and Researchers

Jenny Liu, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Google in his blog of 11 May wrote:

"It’s one of our guiding principles that data beats opinion. With that in mind, our marketing team has put a lot of effort into posing interesting questions—How do new mothers use the Internet? When do people really start their holiday shopping? What trends typify today’s Hispanic web user?—and answering them with concrete information to help marketers make better informed decisions".

Google is making the difference! The comapny has developed an excellent tool “Think Insights website”. This tool will represent a wide variety of content. Google will use its knowledge and insights into internet marketing trends. The company has put substantial efforts in understanding its users which is helping Google improve how web users are embracing new media platforms and how marketers are adapting to technology’s dynamic landscape.

The availibity of key data will facilitate marketers in developing their marketing stratefy and also improve the market for Google AdWords.

Google is keeping at the top of demand driven marketing strategy.

Largest Technology Buyout – Microsoft Purchases Skype!

Growth in the technology sector is becoming major threat to industry giants. Recent $8.5 billion Skype buyout deal with Microsoft is one example of how industry giants are trying to do things to keep up with the faster growing technology companies.

On 9th May, this largest buyout agreement was finalized. This acquisition will help Microsoft enter in business lines such as calling to play, catch-up in mobile and web advertising.
Microsoft realizes that the market for online advertising and mobile software is growing with crazy pace and this biggest Internet takeover in the recent history, will also bring Microsoft in direct competition with Google in online advertising and Apple Inc. in mobile software.

The plan to connect Skype’s 170 million active users, to Microsoft’s Outlook e-mail, Xbox game console, Windows mobile phones and corporate-phone software will truly shake the technology market place!

Skype was founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis. The founders sold the company for $2.6 billion in 2005 to San Jose, California-based EBay Inc., which in turn sold off most of its stake four years later. Current investors include EBay, Silver Lake and Andreessen Horowitz.

We need to watch how Google takes this deal in the near future!

Effective Communication - the Science of Change Management

We like to live in our comfort zone and as intelligent specie generally resist change, particularly in the corporate world. Often people do not realize the cost of their rigidity in changing their behaviors.

How many times did you experience people gossiping in the corridors about a particular process or procedure introduced in your organization in which management had spent precious time and money? Initial reactions are curiosity, fear, anxiety that result in reluctance in adapting things that are aimed at improving the efficiency and brining transparency in an organization.

Many times, the key reason for resistance to change is lack of communication between the change implementers and staff. Senior management often leaves the process to an implementing team, resulting a communication gap between the top management and the rest. Certainly causing frictions!

Yes Change Management is a science many senior managers still find tough to deal with.

There are two essentials to follow for managing change:
1. Open and two way communication
2. Creating buy-in by describing benefits

I read an excellent piece from Garrison Wynn

"Communication skills are the foundation of team work, allowing us to transfer a message of support and hope so we believe as a group that solutions are possible. The key to being able to communicate and benefit from each other is to truly see you own value. That will allow you to see it more clearly in others."

Technically speaking, when we communicate, we try to influence other’s thoughts, hence this should be a carefully crafted process and thoughtful selection of words is necessary and often realizing the pain of not changing helps in behavioral acceptability towards change.

Entrepreneurship is Beyond Money Management

A number of new businesses sprung up in the time of recession. After failure to find a suitable job, most people try to enter into entrepreneurship career. But due to unstable economic conditions and lack of their abilities to face the entrepreneurship challenges, some succeed, some not.

Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki has written a new book “Unfair Advantage” in which he describes that unemployed people enjoy an unfair advantage of becoming an entrepreneur. According to Robert, “age is not a bar in becoming self-employed”. For example, he says that “It might be easy to lease a luxury car and offer limo service”.

Robert says that “The ability to sell is an important skill of any entrepreneur and the key job of an entrepreneur is to raise money.”

And he advices entrepreneurs to learn:

1. to Sell,
2. to invest via market trends, and
3. to invest in real estate trends.

In my view, this theory can be challenged. There is no doubt when economy dives and companies start showing people doors, a larger number of individuals try to start their own businesses. But at the same time, cash is scarce and products and services are competing for less money. This cut throat competition makes survival for new business a major challenge.

My argument is that “Basics of Entrepreneurship” go beyond selling and investing. Entrepreneurship needs much more holistic approach and skill-set, idea and idea implementation strategy is evenly important. After all investments will be made when access cash is available!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why would I buy an Apple (iPOD, iPhone or iPad)?

The simple answer is “iPad is IN”.

The concept of different strategies for business machines and consumer hardware is now history. New technologies have changed the way marketing was done to businesses and to individuals.

The most significant change in the way such products are positioned it the marketplace came from iPhone. Despite the fact that most tec people originally categorized iPhone as a consumer product, it became extremely liked gadget in the corporate world as well.

Unique positioning done by Apple is now helping the company to tap into equal business opportunities in both market segments. This strategy is likely to outrun Apple’s competitors HP that is bringing out HP Slate.

The key to this unique positioning by Apple is by making a consumer focused product and transforming it for into a corporate gadget by adding business functionalities.
This approach provided Apple a strategic place in the young consumers market. For example youth can graduate from iPod Touch to iPhone at a later date and to tablet devices. Having said that, the challenge for Apple is to satisfy its consumers that are unable to use third party applications.

My view is that Apple builds customer loyalty right from the youth hood just like Wal-Mart that trains its future customers by giving them small trolleys for shopping at Wal-Mart stores.

What is McDonald’s Line of Business?

Starting his career as a Red Cross ambulance driver, how did Ray Korc became the owner of McDonald’s Restaurant chain? Ray had a vision:

“Serve burgers, buns, fries and beverages that tasted just the same in Alaska as they did in Alabama”

This could only be done through creating flaw less processes and effective supply chain, and today, McDonald’s restaurant system is known for consistency in taste due to uniform methods of preparation.

I read an interesting quote from him:

“If I had a brick for every time I’ve repeated the phrase Quality, Service, Cleanliness and Value, I think I’d probably be able to bridge the Atlantic Ocean with them.”

Today McDonald's is one of the largest restaurant chains in the world.
But if I ask you “What is McDonald’s Actual line of business? I am sure almost 100% will respond: “RESTAURANT BUSINESS or Selling Hamburgers”.

McDonald’s line of business is “REAL ESTATE”. Surprised!

McDonald’s is known for acquiring properties for its restaurants at the most attractive intersections. Not only in the US, but around the globe, all McDonald’s restaurants are either located at busy intersections or in malls full of customers. These properties have made this company the single largest owner of real estate in the world.

Interestingly, the company is now entered in China in a big way. Let’s see how this fast emerging market takes its business to new heights. That's what we call a futuristic strategy for business development.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Untapped Facebook Opportunity in Pakistan

Over the last few days I have been asking my contacts if they are using Facebook as a tool for business networking or business promotion. Despite the fact that Pakistanis are one of the largest Facebook community, but the response to my question is mostly NO!

For older generation, perhaps Facebook is too technical and they generally do not feel comfortable in exploring the opportunities, but surprisingly, the younger generation also marginally uses it as an opportunity tool!

I was reading an article in San Francisco Chronicle that quotes a study conducted by PEW Research Center in the US suggesting that:

“up to 8 percent of the top news sites' traffic now comes from Facebook, which is also one of the top destinations after a visitor leaves a news site, an indication that people are using the Facebook Share button embedded in news stories.”


“CNN, had 5.84 percent of its departing visitors heading to Facebook and 7.05 percent coming from the social network. SFGate saw 3.82 percent of its traffic going to Facebook and 5.74 percent coming the other way”.

These are some astonishing numbers. I am wondering how many business in Pakistan are actually using social media as a Business TOOL? I guess, most businesses are still living in stone age and hence provide supper opportunities for social media experts.

Tweets by Celebrities on Mother’s Day

Tweeting has become an “In” thing. Perhaps this is the reason that on this mother’s day in addition to cakes, chocolates and flowers for mothers, a number of celebrities also sent their love and gratitude via Tweeter.

For example:

Vivek Oberoi wrote: For ur love, guidance, wisdom and strength...Love you maa!

Actress Bipasha Basu, tweeted: "My Mother! Superwoman! Paying respect to the most selfless person in our lives, Mothers! Everyday not just today."

Neil Patrick Harris of How I Met Your Mother “Happy Mother’s Day, everyone! I’m very lucky to have a mom I respect and love”.

Sarlet Kourtney Kardashian tweeted: “Happy Mother’s Day to all of the amazing mother’s!! Life would not be possible without you! Enjoy your day,”

Actress Dia Mirza wrote; “Every time I think of all that my mother is and does I wonder if I''ll ever make a mother as good as her... My Mommy is the best,"

Lara Dutta tweeted: “To mine, and all the mommies in the world, may today and all your days be filled with unconditional love!, actress-producer Lara Dutta said.

Ex-Australian spinner Shane Warne- “Happy mothers day to all the mums out there-you guys have the toughest job in the world. Hope you get spoilt-to my mum-your the best !!!!!!”

Sania Mirza Malik- “Happy Mother's day to all the wonderful and fabulous mothers in the world..the world is nothing without you all:)”

Well done celebrities, you found time to at least tweet for your moms!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tips on Finding a Dream Job

So after my blog “Be an Entrepreneur - Do not suppress your career potential!” I received emails from readers suggesting “there are people out there interested in a job career, I should write for them as well!

So I asked myself, what is a dream job?

1. Comes with loads of money?
2. Provides career growth opportunity?
3. Less volatile?
4. Or all three?

Anyone with very basic intelligence would say yes, ALL THREE. I do not think one should not ask for the best, however, without self diagnostic it is not possible to expect all that falling into your lap!

Market forces together with your education, experience, will to accept challenges and your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) that helps you stand out in competition determines what will be your career opportunities.

I highly recommend James Caan’s book “Get the Job You Really Want”. James was born in Pakistan in 1960. Migrated to UK where he changed his identity. He graduated from Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School, and known for building and selling businesses. He made his fortune in recruitment business “Humana International” with 147 offices in 30 countries.

His book not only addresses the challenges for experienced job seekers, but also provides tools for new market entrants.

Caan says: “It is possible to have the job of your dreams. Together we are going to set about getting you there..”

Enjoy reading and get your dream job.

Mothers Day Special “Mompreneurs - a very happy mother’s day!”

Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May is a well-established tradition going back to Ann Jarvis of Philadelphia in 1907. With her strong determination, Ann dedicated her life to fulfill her mother’s dream of the recognition of day for honoring mothers.

Mothers are special, absolutely! They carry a baby for 9 months, day-night, work or rest, rain of snow. Go through birth pains, feeds, loves, cares, guides. No doubt, God has combined all His loving qualities only in one person “Mother”.

With ever changing dynamics of business, raising a family for working mothers has been a challenge. The term used for Mom Entrepreneurs is “Mompreneur”. Cool, isn’t it?

There is no doubt that striking a balanced life is perhaps the biggest struggle for a Mompreneur. Writer Julie Lenzer Kirk in her book “The PartnerpReneur Edge” suggests that being a mom makes a better businesswoman and how parenting teaches helps building a successful business.

In my view mothers are:

Better planner
Have people’s qualities
Understand money
Pushy and

Keep it up moms, a very happy mother’s day to Momopreneurs around the globe!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Financial Wisdom helps Generate Wealth!

I was sitting with a very old friend who is a brave entrepreneur. He has successfully owned businesses in the US, Sri Lanka and now experimenting with his travel knowledge and owns a Travel Agency in Karachi, Pakistan.

He was in bad mood!

1.Phenomenal increase in cost of doing business
2.Strike calls by various political and religious outfits in protest of one thing or another.

Knowing my friend, I asked him about his financial management policy. Response: Sales-costs=Profits. Well done I said!

But how do you price your services? Are you now underselling, how much capital has been with held by your suppliers (airlines etc)-did you add the cost of capital into your pricing, how much is your promotional cost-who pays for this?

These were aftershocks for my friend. He never built those costs into his pricing and was also unaware if he was underselling. The only thing he knew, “His company was getting into financial trouble”.

I remembered a tag lines from Robert T Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad Poor Dad “The Rich Invent Money”. They do it by carefully considering the financials of their businesses, “every bit of financials”. They understand the difference between assets and liabilities. They invest in assets and reduce their liabilities. This helps them invent money. That is the power of

Robert suggests:

“ the primary cause of financial struggle is simply not knowing the difference between an asset and a liability.”

Usually businessmen, particularly in countries with low literacy rate, struggle in working with their financials. Today I understood the key reason for business failures in developing countries – Lack of Financial Literacy - A knowledge that ensures the strength of a company.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Be an Entrepreneur - Do not suppress your career potential!

Over past 25 years of professional career, I have been interacting both with employees and entrepreneurs. Only this week while traveling from Lahore to Karachi, I was sitting with a young MBA who is working at a large FMCG company (www.engro.com) as an Assistant Brand Manager, a career job for the last nine years.

We started talking about career progress and role of employers. Generally speaking, a good employer with strong HR department provides a career map to its employee right at the beginning of their career. This young lad also had the same experience. He was happy that from research, he is moved to a more lively position that allows him to interact with a wider community and also involves substantial traveling. At this position, a small company maintained car and cell phone expense are also provided. Excellent deal, isn’t it?

My radical thought process started! No it is not a good deal, my thoughts pushed me further in the opposite direction………….

I am getting convinced that if an employer gives you a career map……. Your growth is almost pre-defined. Annual performance reviews and career meeting might help in couple of quick jumps on your salary scale, you are happy to visualize a decent career growth and position 10 years down the line without realizing that your mind has been locked to a certain path.

Okay, now compare working for others, with working for yourself as an entrepreneur. Looking at examples such as Richard Branson, Anita Roddick, Ray Kroc, Sir Alan Sugar etc, you will see that the freedom and the flexibility to progress for an entrepreneur is unimaginable!

Having said this, entrepreneurship is not a piece of cake like some may believe. This means no more 9-5 working, no more relaxed weekends. Because now you have different set of challenges, you are a manager, order taker, order filler, bookkeeper, shipping manager and customer service representative all in one, at least at the beginning of your entrepreneurial career.

But the pleasure is awesome! Now you are defining your own career path……….

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Driving Traffic to your Blog

Generally, driving traffic to a blog is a major challenge for any blogger. There are several resouces availabel on the web. I however like the starters to consider social media as the first choice, its easy and quick. Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin particularly have great viral impact.

Following are some links that provide some useful information:

1. How to Increase Website Traffic
2. Seth Godin's Blog
3. Stumbleupon

Enjoy Blogging!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stuck on your career ladder – Tools for Moving Ahead

I promised to write a follow-up blog to the one published in August last year
titled “Career Stagnation Syndrome”. I started that blog by asking:

Did you ever realize how challenging it is to continue upward on your career ladder?
I received several emails and comments on my facebook and linkedin posts suggesting that generally, people feel “they are stuck”).

In my view, YOU are the sole problem!

Ask yourself: Am I really putting in efforts that would build momentum for my career move? Think about it…. and run a reality check based on the following points:

Do I have the right qualifications, experience and exposure?
Is my current employer growing in business volumes and profits?
Is senior management supportive of my career development?
What is the competition like (are there any other potential candidates waiting for promotion)?

Write down your statements and now answer the following questions:

- Do I need to upgrade my qualifications?
- Do I need to look for another job in a sector and company that is growing?
- How do I show enthusiasm and express my desire for promotion to senior management?
- How can I beat the competition?

Your answers will help you make a strategic plan that will build momentum and the energy required to pull you out of the situation.

It’s like re-launching a brand when companies repackage the old stuff and find a new market for their products. My experience is that people stuck in their career get frustrated and generally complaints without realizing “how free they are to make a move!”.

It’s simple and doable; just remember three words:
Commitment – Passion - Action

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Few Leaders - Others Just Pretending!

“There is no such thing as a perfect leader, either in the past or present, in China or elsewhere. If there is one, he is only pretending, like a pig inverting spring onions into his nose in an effort to look like an elephant.” —Liu Shao-Chi — Which means we must consistently strive to improve ourselves”.
Realizing that there aren't many strive for improvement, the above stuck me hard! Does it mean that leaders around us are just pretending?
To me, One can improve only if he has the realization about self-accountability, and courage to take criticism in a positive manner.
There aren't many who can describe things that they should not be doing as leaders!
Continuous improvement is the key challenge for leaders..... only few meet this challenge...... so there are only few leaders, others are just pretending!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Collective Wisdom – Power to Generate Solutions

Over the past 22 years of my interactions with top executives, I have noticed that most of them never realize the knowledge and expertise exist within their own organizations.

Often stuck in issues such as decline in sales, increasing production losses/costs, staffing, branding etc, they look outside the organization by hiring an “Independent Consultant” for advice.

I ask them why an outside Consultant? You have people who know the company, product and customers. They look at me with blank faces and say “That’s the best practice” or there is any other way out?

Neglecting the wealth of internal knowledge and expertise, most businesses end-up paying massive amount of consultation fee for advice that is often too expensive to implement. Smaller business can’t afford that fee and either vanish or go into deep trouble.

One of the most effective way to overcome issues mentioned above is by encouraging staff and senior management to get engaged in creative discussions focusing Issues-vs-Solutions.

Nothing can beat the power of “Collective Wisdom”. By effective interactions between the staff and senior management, the knowledge and insight gained is invaluable. It not only helps identify solutions to major issues, but also create ownership among staff and boost morale.

Process is easy! Find couple of enthusiastic individuals within the organization and ask them to prepare questions relevant to a specific issue for group discussions. Once questions are validated, call group meetings (ideally 10-15 relevant participants), break them into equal groups. In a relaxed environment float questions one-by-one and generate debate. You will soon realize the extraordinary co-creative potential that exists when human beings start close interaction. You will see the energy, bindings and ownership values emerging.

This "Collective Wisdom" generated by group discussions will layout a clearer path towards solutions that are practical to implement describing “How to –and “How not to”.