Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?

Jr Loius V.Gerstner’s book “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?” is not an autobiography of Gestner while it is brief of his seven year stint in IBM as its CEO. The book presents Gestner’s work of turning around the sinking ship “IBM”.  Gestner has scripted his strategies of patching the hole in the hull to resurrecting the elephant to its position of market leadership. Gestner identifies Marketing Myopia and inward looking approach as the centre problem for IBM & also presents his opinion about Merger & Acquisition, leadership and corporate culture of IBM.

As the name suggests, Gestner has repeatedly mentioned “IBM’s massive size” hence the common noun “Elpehant” figures in the book’s title. Gestner is very vocal about the resistance in IBM culture to change. Every chapter of the book talks about internal resistance in form of internal department ego clashes, process driven culture & excessive decentralization which leads to slow decision making leading to an obsolete strategy of IBM. Gestner also talks about excessive love of IBM team with its Operating OS2 which in the marketing parlance can be termed as marketing myopia.

The decline of the IBM in the early 1990s can understood by “S-Curve Theory” also commonly known as “Innovator’s Dilemma”. In IBM’s case, IBM is the innovator of OS2 operating system and was obsessed with its brain child. This combined with the inward looking approach did not allow IBM to adopt greater return offering technologies springing in the technology environment.

Prior to Gestner’s tenure in IBM, IBM’s management team had laid out strategic vision for IBM’s entry into newer technological arenas. However, the internal resistance combined with a vision without details lead to non-execution of the laid out strategy. Gestner is of the view that “Good Strategy is long on details” and hence his ability to execute the strategy is commendable. He dismisses the common phrase ”Small is Beautiful, Big is Bad” and comments “focus combined with good leadership can enable an elephant to be nimble and flexible.”

The book may be misconceived by many as one filled with technical jargons, in reality the book is simple to read and does not bore one with management terms owing to the non-tech background of the author. Book should not be understood as one meant for offering management magical potions to its readers. Readers who have watched & understood the recent print & television advertisements of consulting giant “Accenture” featuring an elephant performing “Surfing Stunts in Ocean’s High Tides” can easily understand the essence of the book.

Accenture Advt featuring Elephant

Accenture Advt featuring Elephant

S Curve for Technology

S Curve for Technology

Advertisements

Harrowing Experiences with Online Travel Portals

With the increasing broadband penetration & increasing internet users in India, the Indian travel ecommerce industry has been burgeoning and has seen increasing number of players. Some of the leading players in the space are www.irctc.co.in ,www.makemytrip.comwww.yatra.comwww.cleartrip.com (Leading players  are determined on the base of users clicks monitored by www.vizisense.com).

I have been to many cities of India along with comes a lot of travelling. These travelling instances have worked as an eye opener to some of the business friendly and non-customer friendly strategies of Online Travel Portals. Some of the non-customer friendly experiences of mine with some of these travel portals I came across are presented in the blog.

>> Innovative but non-customer friendly pricing strategy (Travelocity): In order to understand the strategy, you need to perform a step wise detailed exercise presented below.

  1. Visit the website www.travelocity.co.in
  2. Now, query for domestic flights between any source airports to any destination airport. Make sure you set the following parameters before hitting the search now. One way trip and one adult.
  3. Observe the rates of each flight listed in the response to the search query.
  4. Now, perform the query for the same parameters except set Adult=2 passengers. Observe the rate of each flight listed in the response to the search query.

OBSERVATION: When parameter adult =2 is queried for, ticket rates are increased by some amount as compared to what they were for parameter adult=1 for the same flight. In my case presented in the images at the end of the blog, the rate of JetliteS20120 for a single passenger is INR 2961 whereas the rate of JetliteS20120 for two passenger is INR 3036 *2, which is an increment of INR 75 per passenger. However, in case of GO AIRLINES, the increment is INR 150. Incidentally, Travelocity was offering a discount of INR 150 per passenger while this exercise was performed by me.

>>Non Customer Friendly Service (MakeMytrip): I booked my bus ticket recently with MakeMytrip.com. The boarding point details mentioned in the attached ticket had several faults which are detailed below:

  1. The boarding point details do not contain any phone contact details, which in my case was easily found in www.justdial.com but the MakeMyTrip team did not bother to punch the same in the issued ticket. Note if you don’t have the phone contact details, these boarding points are so small that they are not known to rickshaws/taxi drivers and hence not easy to reach.
  2. Adding to this, the boarding point in my case was not the exact point at which the bus reached. The exact boarding point was nearly 1 kilometre away from the mentioned one. If you are pressed for time, you may end up paying double the rent for taxi/rickshaw for the kilometre and in my case I had to pay INR 50 for the kilometre travelled.
  3. More infuriating was the passive behaviour of customer care of  MakemyTrip. A SOS call made by me when I was not able to find the exact boarding point was dropped abruptly by me post quoting the Trip ID. However, post the drop of the call there was no follow-up call by the customer care indicating the passiveness of the customer care.

>> Non Customer Friendly Service (Yatra): One of my air tickets to Chennai quoted a departure time twenty five minutes post the actual the departure time of the flight. A follow-up made by me with the customer care ended with the response that a change of less than half hour in the departure time of the flight is not communicated by customer care to the passenger and hence passenger is responsible for missing the flight. Please note in this case the flight timings for the concerned flight was changed nearly a month before the date of ticketing.

Internet is full of harrowing experiences with travel portals like mine. One of the experiences of a vivid blogger Kiruba which made it to a periodical is presented in this blog. These incidences are indicators of the fact that the present online portals can only boast of discounts and are low cost strategy oriented. The need to adopt a customer friendly and service oriented strategy has been put to back burner by the portals. Wake Up entrepreneurs there is a hole to plug.

Flight Query Result for one passenger - Travelocity
Flight Query Result for one passenger – Travelocity
Flight Query Results for Two Passengers - Travelocity
Flight Query Results for Two Passenger – Travelocity
Travel eCommerce Top Websites - ViziSense
Travel eCommerce Top Websites – ViziSense

If God was a Banker – Book Review

If God was a Banker” by “Ravi Subramanian” similar to my recent readings “Watchout We are MBA” and “Two States” also comes from the league of authors who are member of alumni clubs of premiere B-Schools of India. The story is of two bankers of New York International Bank (NYIB) who started their career together post their MBA from IIMs.  The story majorly revolves around five characters viz Sundeep, an arrogant and overconfident graduate from IIM Ahmadabad; Swami, a modest and honest chap from IIM Bangalore, Kalpana a campus recruit for NYIB who goes on to marry Swami; Aditya, the first boss of Swami, Sundeep and Kalpana; Natasha, secretary of Aditya whom Sundeep gets married to.

The story is a narration of career progression of Swami and Sundeep in the bank. Though both started off from the same point, the paths charted by each of them differed largely.  Sundeep is presented as a result oriented professional for whom result mattered the most not the means. Sundeep in the race of making a good career falls in pray of Naresh which leads to his infidelity to wife Natasha and him becoming a Casanova, maintaining illicit relations with women colleagues of his bank.  Association with Naresh aids Sundeep in making a faster career progression within NYIB which Sundeep returns with multiple and illegal repeat business of NYIB with Naresh.

While Swami, a modest IIM Bangalore graduate from middle class background is presented as a man with strong reputation and with integrity. Sundeep in his way up the ladder faults multiple times on moral and integrity fronts. The expose of his faults during an audit ends his banking career but the support of Aditya and Swami ensures no public reprimand for his deeds.

The story subtly brings out some of the corporate issues of the like Glass Ceiling, sexual encounters at work place etc. The story is slightly engrossing in nature and in some patches becomes slightly boring. The story sometimes seems to be inspired by Bollywood movies where an arrogant boss takes advantage of his women sub-ordinates belonging to middle class background. Well, it’s a 2.5 rating off 5.

Hiring Goes Interactive at B-Schools

In continuation to my blog on hiring practises in B-Schools “B-School Recruitment in Recession” and a recent column by Joe Scaria “Hiring goes interactive as HR targets Gen-next” in Economic times, this article talks a bit more about newer hiring practises by recruiters at B-School campuses.

Joe Scaria dedicates his article to the newer modes of hiring like hiring via contests and talks about once such instance of PepsiCo’s deployment of case study competition to attract talent. Apart from Pepsi, there are many other companies who have adopted this mode of hiring not only post recession but well before recession hence the mode cannot be termed as a novel mode of hiring. Some of the companies which have accepted this mode of hiring are presented below:

Company / Event

Event Type What do they offer
GE – Genesis Business Plan Competition Winners offered PPI + Rewards
Loreal – Brandstorm Marketing Case Study (International Event) Winners offered PPI
Mahindra – War Room Business Plan Competition Winners offered PPI
Yes Bank – ‘YES BANK – Businessworld TransformationSeries 2010’ Case Study Competition Winners offered PPI

Though these are some of the events reproduced, there are many such competitions which are held in premier B-School campuses meant for employer branding and talent attraction. The competition gives the recruiter a much more air time at campus than it can afford/ is offered during the placement season which leads to a much more informed decision making for both the candidate and the recruiter (Read about Understand Recruiters in B-School at my blog Understanding your prospective employer).

The changes in the recruitment processes are welcomed both by the recruiters as well as by the student community. An indicator to increasing popularity of academic competition events at B-School campus is the increasing traffic toDare2Compete, a website dedicated to provide students with timely information about the latest competitions waiting to happen across India and abroad. I believe the change is for good and will fruit good results.