Thursday, April 21, 2011

The paradigm of pleasing!

Sometimes it makes me wonder why do we do many things that we do today.

In the corporate world, companies put in a lot of effort towards keeping their customers happy so that they can retain them. Employees want to please their boss so that they get a good rating in their performance appraisals. Organizations work to keep their employees happy so that the company fairs well in the employee satisfaction surveys or be called the best place to work. We can go on citing many more examples like these.

In personal lives, we go that one step beyond and throw more surprises to the people around us. Husband gifts his wife diamonds on her birthday to keep her delighted. Parents buy the child anything that it would ask for so that the child is happy. Similarly, many more.

By now, you would have guessed where I am inching towards. On one hand is nice to know that people are being valued for, as to what their likes are while the on other hand it makes me wonder if we are using some tactics to attain something easier than the normal route.

If we rewind back a few years, there was no such effort made. We all had certain discipline and certain system in place and that's about it. No special effort was taken to please or delight people. Things were taken at face value and people were objective about their dealings. Companies did not budget huge sums of money on customer retention or acquisition. People did not go out of the way to delight their spouses or surprise their children. It is a paradigm shift in the way we think and the way we work.

Is it a healthy sign that we are evolving a culture of keeping others happy? Or, is this a shortcut to glory by keeping others pleased?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Side-effects of an MBA!

To all my fellow-MBAs
aspiring MBAs

Its been a while since I wrote. Obviously, I do not have a PTM (Primary Target Market to put in MBA terms) for my blog but I write for myself. It is to keep alive my zeal for writing and a means express myself. Of late, I really have not been writing as much as I should be. The last 8 months of MBA away from the country has changed my world completely. Needless to say, the time-crunch associated with the demanding schedule of a B-School.

I resolved to myself to break that behavior and get back to doing things which I enjoy doing. A good point to start with is to write about what my last few months of MBA has done to me! The number of management theories, the frameworks, the analysis mechanisms and the management best practices you learn are sometimes detrimental to your normal cognitive process aka common sense.

This post might be a slight exaggeration in some cases and subtle in some others. Never mind, just enjoy the post for the heck of it!

Side effect number 1 - head reeling with numbers

Now, whenever I go out, I cant just stick to the purpose of my going out. I tend to look out for other things in the angst of keeping my eyes and ears open. Even if I to a super market, I immediately put a number against the size of the store, count the number of people working there, how they are assigned tasks, what does the supervisor do, body language and enthusiasm of their employees, the idle time, how often they replenish their inventory on the shelf, which are the brands displayed prominently and which others are given the back-seat, how many advertisements are displayed, order of arrangement, gauge their fixed costs, extrapolate the sales volume, turnover etc. And in the mind make a judgement whether the business is profitable or not. All of this in the 15-20 mins of my shopping experience there!

From my previous paragraph, you would have guessed how much of logical judgements and arithmetic would be churning in my head even in a supposed to be mindless shopping experience. That too, from someone who is not greatly fond of numbers! Once upon a time, I hated number-crunching and 8 months into an MBA, I have come in terms of realization that I cant do away with them but to make friends with numbers and work in harmony. LOL!

Side effect number 2 - critic, critic, critic!

There is this new critic in me who is always screaming and telling me to look through things. "Stop taking things at their face-value" it yells! I stopped believing in brands. The little amount of marketing I have learnt is enough to tell me to strip brands naked and value them for the substance and not their image. For some of the products I was extremely loyal to, I am beginning to get seconds thoughts. I really don't know if it is good or bad!

Side effect number 3 - Viewpoint!

Now with that myopic satisfaction and vision of having learnt business models and process, the different industries and their benchmarks, success stories and failures, leadership and strategies, I think I have shaped up my own world-view and developed a viewpoint for everything. I can speak about anything and everything under the sun. That too with the conviction that my point is my point, right or not, I ought to have it. But honestly, can you develop a random viewpoint for any random thing, randomly? Phew!!!

Side effect number 4 - Cost Vs benefit

This is the worst of them all. With the number bug bitten and the nervous system tuned to send wrong signals affecting the actions, I behave strangely. I tend to assign a number against every damn thing, even if it is an emotion. Certain things I have never done before have suddenly become a part of my normal behavior. Let me give you an example. If I were to go to India, first question is how much is the flight fare? Next is low long am I going to stay there? Third, how many people am I going to meet? Then, agenda of meeting? Important? Urgent? Alternatives? etc., etc., The older me would not have done it. If I feel like going home, I just go. The overall effect now: I am abnormal!

Side effect number 5 - It depends!

After going through the entire rigmarole and ritual of MBA, having learnt to do a lot of reflection and analysis, the answer that all B-school grads give for any question, at any point in time, at any place is "It depends"! Now, don't ask me why. If you want an answer to it, take an MBA course yourself. LOL!