Is there a case to revisit the Case Study Method? 

Is there a case to revisit the Case Study Method? 
 

Back in the 1920s, Harvard Business School(HBS) professors decided to develop and experiment with innovative and unique business instruction methods. As the first school in the world to design a signature, distinctive program in business, later to be called the MBA, there was a need for a teaching method that would benefit this novel approach.

Central to the case method is the idea that students are not provided the “answer” or resolution to the problem at hand. Instead, just like a board member, CEO, or manager, the student is forced to analyze a situation and find solutions without full knowledge of all methods and facts. Without excluding more traditional aspects, such as interaction with professors and textbooks, the case method provides the student with the opportunity to think and act like managers.

HBS professors selected and took a few pages to summarize recent events, momentous challenges, strategic planning, and important decisions undertaken by major companies and organizations. The idea was, and remains to this day, that through direct contact with a real-world case, students will think independently about those facts, discuss and compare their perspectives and findings with their peers, and eventually discover a new concept on their own.

So far, so good.

In lecture courses, claimed a Harvard professor, students ” are waiting for you to give the ‘answer ‘ “. There is a built-in bias against action. What we say with the case method is : ” Look, I know you don’t have enough information, but given the information you do have, what are you going to do? “.

Consider a typical scenario. James is the CEO of MegaCorp Inc. What should the company do now? The professor and almost 90 of James’ classmates anxiously await his response to the totally ‘ cold call ‘- designed to ensure that students have prepared the case. James did give it a long thought. After all, he was told that the case study method is intended to ” challenge conventional thinking “. He has also been reminded that good managers are decisive, good MBA students must take a stand. So James swallows hard and answers the question.

” How can I answer the question? “- James begins. ” I barely heard about MegaCorp Inc before yesterday. Yet today, you want me to pronounce on its strategy. As is typical at Harvard, James was working on two other case studies the previous night, so he barely had a couple of hours to prepare on the MegaCorp Inc case. He had never knowingly used any of the MegaCorp products. Until the previous day he did not even know that the rat poison that he used on his basement was made by the same MegaCorp Inc. He had never visited any of its factories nor has been anywhere close to ‘ You Never Know Where, Newfoundland ‘, where MegaCorp is headquartered. He has never spoken to any of the company’s customers(except of course himself). James says ” My previous experience(the little there was) took place in a furniture company. MegaCorp is a high-tech company and I am a very low tech guy. All I have to go by are these few pages. This is a superficial exercise. I refuse to answer your question “.

What happens to James? At the business school, I will let you hazard(?) a guess. But from there James moves back to the furniture business, where he immerses himself in the products, the process, the people. And with his courage to be decisive and with an appetite to challenge conventional thinking, James rises to the position of the CEO. There with hardly any ‘ industry analysts ‘ at all, James and his colleagues learn their way to a strategy that transforms the furniture business.

Meanwhile, John, who is sitting next to James in class jumps in. He too has never been to ‘ You Never Know Where, Newfoundland ‘. But that doesn’t stop him.He makes a clever point or two and gets that coveted Harvard MBA. This gets him into a ‘ prestigious consulting firm ‘, where as in those case study classes, he leaps from one situation to another, each time making a clever point or two, concerning issues he recently knew nothing about, always leaving the firm before implementation (action) begins.

As this kind of experience rolls in, John doesn’t take far too long in becoming the CEO of a major appliance company.(He never consulted for one but it does remind him of that MegaCorp case study). There, after downsizing( it’s fashionable you see) a few thousand unsuspecting Human Resources, he formulates a glitzy high-tech strategy, which is implemented, so to speak, through a dramatic program of acquisitions. What happens to that?? Guess again!

Readers (of the book ‘ What they Really Teach You At Harvard Business School ‘by Philip Delves Broughton) are probably asking , ‘ Read the case and do that analysis in two to four hours?’ Harvard’s answer is YES. Students need to prepare two to three cases each day..so (they) must work toward getting their analysis done fast as well done well.

Some years back, HBS ran an ad in The Economist for it’s executive education programs. It had a dapper, uber smart looking executive-woman saying, ” We studied four companies a day. This isn’t theory. This is experience.”

Sorry. This is nonsense.

There was a book released in 1990 called ‘ Inside the Harvard Business School ‘ by David Ewing, for long, an insider. The first line of the book makes a sweeping statement ” The Harvard Business School is probably the most powerful private institution in the world “.The book listed 19 Harvard alumni who had made it to the very top, the school’s superstars as of 1990. If you took a look at the post 1990 records of all 19, to see how they fared, there was only one word to describe it- BADLY. 10 of them clearly seem to have failed(meaning their company went bankrupt), they were forced out of the CEO chair or a major merger backfired, or the like. Performance of another appeared to be very questionable. The other five seem to have done fine.

To conclude, most MBA students enter the prestigious HBS or similarly profiled hallowed Ivy Leagues smart, determined, aggressive. There, case studies teach them how to pronounce clearly on situations they know little about , while analytic techniques give them the impression that they can tackle any problem- no in-depth experience required. With graduation comes the confidence of having been to a proper business school, not to mention the ‘ old boys ‘ network that can boost them to the top. Then what??

Begs the question!! Case Study or Case Unsteady?

ENDS

 

 

 

Don’t Leave Home WIT(hout) it!

If I recall right, AMEX Credit Cards used to have this seminal tagline ‘ Don’t Leave Home Without It ‘ coined by advertising great David Ogilvy. But your visa to a perfect quip or comeback after it didn’t matter—a minute, hour, or day after one of your conversations has ended? Yes, you got it. The best master card up your sleeve – WIT.

No need for WIThdrawal symptoms. You’re not doomed to sit by as ‘clever’ companions exchange sharp banter. You can practice being wittier, improving your reaction times and ability to land a jab or joke at just the right moment. Jokes don’t warrant social distancing. That was CoWIT talking.

Unlike perceived, WIT isn’t just for some gifted linguists. Playing with language—elevating mundane communication from mere talk into a creative process—is a form of innovation that sheds new light on old ideas. Plus, vitally, it makes life less boring and more fun for you and others. So, in short, we can all get better at being ‘ clever ‘.

Just as those highly skilled auto drivers on Bombay roads, if you can turn around (just like they do on a 6 cm radius!) words and phrases in the mind and present new juxtapositions, one can change the way we and other people see. Yes, it’s the road less travelled. But worth taking. So, get on WIT(h) it!

The wittiest among us are simply people who make unusual connections between words and ideas. And never verse off for it. Observations- Refreshed. Surprised!

In cognitive terms, the brain of the wit is less inhibited than that of a linguistic dullard. In other words, fairly, well ventilated shall we say? Are you WIT(h) me? Unabashed, uncensored access to associations, conscious and unconscious, is essential to wit. Apologies, people with brain damage don’t qualify!

The caudate nucleus is one area( 2 kms south of Mira Road..just kidding) of the brain implicated in associative learning and control of inhibitions that may explain how wit is generated. Likewise, the frontotemporal region( east of Kandahar..by now you know!) influences personality, language, and emotional development. Knowing precisely how these areas of the brain interact and regulate thinking will lead to better ‘ scientific comprehension of wit ‘. That is if you really are bothered about all of this in the first place.

So, if you are looking at a guide to ‘ advanced banter ‘, don’t wait for a breakthrough in brain science to cultiWEIGHT wit. (W)It’s reasonably simple. Just knowing that wit is a kind of associative process already makes you better equipped to be a verbal gymnast. The variety of the play of wit manifests through—puns( tumhee pun na!!), rhyme, metaphor, slang, rap(chick), to name a few.

The encouraging thing to understand here is that being creative about language can be mastered with practice. It’s not all natural talent. If you make peace with history and take a piece of it, in analyzing how wit arises or why we might rely on it, the oldest and most revered texts in the world, from the Tao Te Ching(nothing to do with what Neena Gupta endorses) to the Bible to the plays of William Shakespeare are replete with language play. When all the world is a rage, wit has a role to play. Perhaps on centre stage?

With linguistic gymnastics, we can reach people who might not otherwise think they’re interested in certain ideas and break down barriers. Hip-hop and rap, for example, exposed generations of music listeners of all classes and races to black culture they didn’t encounter in their own lives. (And Shakira has taught us that hips don’t lie). Wit’s an efficient way to say more with less, as in the case of a metaphor, or to expose unexpected mean ink, alternately meaning.

Wit is the antidote for a culture being dulled by communication overload—it’s a kind of wisdom. In Aristotle’s words, it is a form of “ educated insolence. ” If we were cracking wise, rather than vice versa ie reacting angrily, and being wittier(or Twittier?) on Twitter, we might all have a much better time.The rate of exchange between strangers and acquaintances online has never been so high(BSE/NASDAQ/FTSE etc please take note). But internet chatter is often toxic and commonly resorts to vitriolic retorts( would have preferred witriolic), angry declarations, and unnecessary observations. Wish that closed minds came with closed mouths. Hence, so many of us feel we are at our wit’s end.

You too can be a master of verbal jousting. Take the WITness stand. It is time to unleash the power WIThin!
Be at home WIT(h) it. But, don’t leave home WIT(hout) it.
(WIT’s) END
WIT AL PART ILL
Dubai

Something is just not not WRITE!

One more of the (Jest)in beaver rants!
 
You can pretend to play the guitar. What one calls the Air Guitar– Sure, you can!
 
But, you can’t pretend to play the Air Guitar. Can you?
 
But this rant is coming with no strings attached. The IPL 2021 is upon us. Under six months of the curtains coming down on the previous edition. Yes, it has come thick and fast.
 
The sport light here in this ‘ peace de assistance ‘ is on ex India cricketer Mohammed Kaif. Now part of the Coaching staff of the team Delhi Capitals as Assistant Coach. All through the IPL 2020 campaign, i.e. around the 16 odd matches that Delhi Capitals played (including the finals against Mumbai Indians), he carried his customary spirited, committed, effervescent attitude. What we also noticed was he always carried a notebook with him. Every single match. Probably all 300 pages of it. After all, observations, insights, learnings etc have to be recorded. Competitive sport is as much about what happens outside the playing field as it is about what happens on it.
 
But, if you were to be Rajat ( or Sharma) or Scholar or Navneet or Apsara (or Pari) or any of the other stationery brands that make these notebooks, you would be very worried. They would be really struggling to read between the lines. Something was just not write. What prevented Kaif from putting pen (or pencil) to paper throughout the last IPL season that left a completely blank notebook at the end of almost a 2 month campaign. Let’s examine it in the write earnest:-
 
Kaif was only pretending to write (just like playing the Air Guitar)
 
– He was distracted by how Ricky Ponting(Head Coach of Delhi Capitals), who he sat next to always in the dugout could chew on two things at the same time: gum and nails.
 
( As we know, Ricky has been stretching his ‘ gum se rishta ‘ for far too long)
 
– He was using a special type of invisible ink, visible only to no one, never to be noted!
 
– Between picking up Ricky‘s Tasmanian accent and Vijay Dahiya‘s ( another s’pport’ staff of Delhi Capitals) Sonipat(Haryana) one, he was hard pressed to fit in his Kanpur dialect
 
( BTW, in Delhi, the letter ‘ u ‘ in support is not needed, so kept it at bay, please don’t treat it as typo- u get the point right?)
 
– He was only making mental notes. The notebook was willy nilly merely a non contributing involuntary ally
 
– He was worried that in case he wrote anything, ‘ COACH tho log kahenge
 
– He had Writers Block and he was waiting for a Block Buster to start writing. And during Covid, there were none releasing
 
– Someone had read out the Write Act to him, hence he did not want to write
 
– There were no lines in the notebook, it was all blank. So, to maintain sanctity, he retained the original look. And didn’t cross the line
 
– He was afraid of Lead poisoning. So, he refused to pencil anything
 
– Being a very private person, he did not want to make his notary public
 
– He missed out the ‘special orientation‘ that Brendon McCullum had conducted for all coaching staff on how to write, how much to write, what to write etc during the IPL matches
 
– He was aware that the impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself
 
Later this evening we get to see Kaif yet again as Delhi Capitals take on Chennai Super Kings. And hopefully the ‘ notebook ‘ too. Unless, he has decided ‘not(e) again!’
 
” Our notebooks give us away, for however dutifully we record what we see around us, the common denominator of all we see is always, transparently, shamelessly, the implacable ‘I.’” —Joan Didion, “On Keeping a Notebook “.
 
Post Scriptum: I have nothing more to write!

Name Place, is it an Animal Thing?

No, this has no reference to the Name-Place-Animal-Thing game that we as kids made our go to on dull nothing better to do afternoons. A game that our parents encouraged us to play in the hope that our grasp of geography, zoology, nouns etc will get an uplift. The days when we had ample monopoly on our time. Days prior to board games like Monopoly and aeons before games like Fortnite took over our days, weeks, fortnights and months. Yes, looking back, those were the daze.
Let me place this right. It’s not about geography. But, going by the names of some of these places, the worry is geography could become history. This rant is about names of some places and the impact (scar is more like it) that it leaves behind.
I am not sure how this place got its name but whosoever was involved in it was sure putting on an act – I am referring to DONGRI. There are strategic brand extensions of it as well like DONGRI Kabootar Wali Chaal(???) but we will leave that for another time. DONGRI? Common, get authentic!
If you think this place has heaps of hidden wealth and this is where the 21st Century gold rush is headed, banish the thought. BANDARWADA holds no such promise. Or premise. It was just Maharashtra’s idea of getting back at Coloma, California, where the first gold rush took place. And there ends the comparison.And the ecstacy.
This one will send a lot of us up shit creek. It’s a place called POO. Yes. POO. Don’t pooh pooh it. POO is a small town in Himachal Pradesh. Whoever hatched this sinister conspiracy, did it in POOr taste. Winnie the POO anyone?
SUAR: When I first heard about this place in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, I wasn’t too suar..I mean sure. On verifying, it turns out there was actually a swine who named this place SUAR. He sure wasn’t too piggy about his selection. I had half a mind to call him porque but then (pig)let it be!
This place is no push over considering it’s actually Ferry Wharf. Sounds ferry good isn’t it? But try getting a bit verny and it gets called BHAUCHA DHAKKA. What aggression. Almost feels like a violation. Like Saddam’s Kuwait invasion. It’s still coming to terms with the DHOKKA.
This one is no middle of the road place. It’s direct and in your face or rather nostrils. A place called MIDDELFART. A small town in central Denmark. They had no clue the kind of stink that such a name will raise. But there you go, no s(h)itting on the fence! Probably, couldn’t smell beyond their own nose – Who knows?
Who on earth would name a place like this? HELL. Yes, that’s what it is. Heaven can wait. No way in hell should a place be named such, hell no, but because it is in Norway, they got away with it I guess. Would they have hell to pay? I have no clue. Imagine booking an Uber ride to HELL. And paying for it in cash!!! And then rating the ride…go to hell I say.
It’s getting increasingly juvenile from hereon. Time for some local anusthesia. That is what you will need when you discover there is a place called ANUS. As if one intrinsically appended to our anatomy was not enough. The French had to have their back door entry into a town called Burgundy. And anus was their only back up. If you are a tour guide and wielding the microphone, how would you react when you hear her say ‘ we are about to enter ANUS ? Since there is a lot to explore, the stop over here will be an hour, anyone wanting to use the rest rooms may… ‘
Seems nothing will make them change the name of this place. NOTHING. Yes, this uninhabited ghost town in Mohave Country, Arizona. Through the years, the dedicated (non) residents had faith in nothing, hoped for nothing, worked at nothing, for nothing. So much for nothing. About time to re-visit ‘ something is better than nothing ‘. Because nothing is!
We are criss crossing geographies here but closer home there is a one horse town called BHAINSA. Didn’t I predict it? It’s an animal thing. No, this place was NOT the inspiration for Bob Marley’s Buffalo Soldier. It is just Telangana’s retort to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris. So, try as you might till the cows come home, Bhainsa is not going grazing anywhere.
What’s in a name? Shakespeare had no clue and will definitely change his mind. Till the next rant..
 
Truly
 
NAMEsake!

Bagging Riots!

When Heavy Weight Brands Are Made to Do A Heavy Wait!

On a recent trip, had some (customary) waiting to do upon landing at the airport, so decided ( after the usual polite skirmish with sweat, suede and swear words) to be an inno scent bystander next to the baggage carousel as it aimlessly (and somewhat harmlessly) went around in circles. So here’s the 360 Degree on it, motivated, well, by bags of time!

The absolute nonchalance with each and every piece of baggage gets treated once it finds place on the carousel has convinced me that the carousel is the only place in the world that is completely agnostic to brands and their status in the pecking order. All of them are treated like true ‘ pile ons ‘. Tumi, Louis Vitton, Delsey, Samsonite, American Tourister, VIP, BOSS, Echolac, China Mall…all came (and went) alike. The message going was loud and clear. Rest in Piece…till such time your owner gets a handle on you!

Nowhere will you see a better study in contrast. The bags taking its own sweet time to get to where it ought to, unabashedly relaxed, clinically unrepentant, approaching arrogance ( I am the BOSS here, you better give me the VIP treatment), do not intrude on my hammock style existence…..On the other side, the owners: anxious, impatient, irritated, hopeful, worried, chaos personified.

The bags I tell you love drama (and some gymnastics as well). Every now and then they bring you to the edge as they salsa, spin and swirl but manage to stay on top of the carousel. That in the process they knock off a few socks from ankles and uncles is a different story. Really edge of the feat stuff!

As you take your monster off the carousel(with a little help from 8 people close to you , 4 of whom were standing on your toes unrepentantly), you just want the trolley to glide through the sea of humanity only to realize that this piece of convenience(supposedly) is a bit like me- it has no sense of direction. As you push North, it heads East. So much for where there’s a wheel, there’s a way! No wayAnd in any case, SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) are meant to function only in Governments!

The area surrounding the carousel is actually a medical practitioner’s delight. The ideal place to easily diagnose the following including but not restricted to: Colour blindness, Slip disc, Parkinsons, Blood Pressure, Extreme Body Odour…is it blue or green? And the real owner sees red in the bargain. If you don’t mind, could you please help me offload my bag?(I travelled light this time)-it’s just 87 kgs( any more and she would have had to hire a cargo plane).

Do you think the carousel is an ideal candidate for acute nausea? Imagine going around in circles, hour after hour, day after day- 360 Degrees and the emergence of the Circular Economy is all very fine but doing it 365 days a year?? Where does it begin? And where does it end? Methinks it’s happy to be a spin doctor! Or should we call it an innocent victim of circum stance?

So the next time you travel, carry XS baggage(Armani, A R Mani, Mr Moneybags etc pl note). Xtra Small. Don’t break the carousel.Give the carousel a break…unless of course you want to see some Delsey, all at sea! Boss, it makes no sense Tumi!

ENDS

https:www.groupisd.com/story

https://www.brandknewmag.com

Cheap Signaling, Power Dynamics..

Cheap Signaling, Power Dynamics..
Courtesy: The dictionary meaning may seem a bit out of place in this context but here it is nonetheless: ” the showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behaviour towards others “.
 
For all the education and training providers in the market, there is a great opportunity. Offering specialised courses in Professional Courtesy 101. Get ready to laugh your way to the bank. The market is dying for something so fundamental.
 
A bit of a back narrative if you permit me. 
 
Let me circle back to an era(read Pre Covid) where travel was a breeze. When geography was truly history. Early in the year, I had set up a meeting in another country with the Founder/CEO of a leading premium real estate experience entity. He had inherited the business from his self made father who had built a mega infrastructure building corporation over the years. The meeting was to showcase a strategic roadmap for his organisation and share creative communication templates that are in sync with the strategy. Our team put in the emotional labour, ran the hard yards and created something truly magnificent. After all, we were meeting the scion, a decision maker, a business leader and as is our wont, we were prepared to deliver the best. The meeting was fixed almost a month ahead and I had planned my booking and travel accordingly. On the appointed day, yours truly set out, full of belief, confidence and exuberance to meet the revered appointee. The drive was a good hour and twenty minutes away and factoring in traffic bottlenecks, the lead time to reach destination was a good two hours. I must confess that other than optimism, hope and high enrolment, I had no premonition of what was to come. Reaching well ahead of the appointed time, imagine my plight when I was told by his hapless secretary that he will not be in office today as some other meeting had come up and he would not have the time to meet me. I reconciled to the situation as quickly as I could(after all I had flown in from a different country to meet) and offered the secretary that I wouldn’t mind the meeting being rescheduled. That is when I realised she was helpless too. Prompting me to take things into my own hands. During the rest of the day, I tried reaching my ‘ appointee ‘ on 9 different occasions on his phone, sent messages separately  by Email and Whats App, but to no avail.
 
It’s been ten months since that date and I am still to hear from him. Forget an apology or regret, absolutely NOTHING. Now you know why I suggest the huge potential of Professional Courtesy 101.
 
The next messperience is closer home. Well within our geography. But this meeting made the very concept of courtesy, history. The client in question here is an uber premium automobile brand. So, not unreasonably, we had high expectations. Well before the appointed hour, me and two of my senior leadership team members of ISD Global arrived with our usual appendage: professionalism, confidence and complete preparedness. Projection screens were set, rest of the AV equipment along with our team members were raring to go as well. The buzz in the room was palpable. That was the end of it though. The three executives on the other side of the table were completely oblivious to the fact that there was a meeting by appointment, there was a presentation being made and there was an agenda that was mutually set prior to the meeting. They were all focused on their laptop and mobile screens with so much intensity that they couldn’t care less there were other people in the room seeking their attention and presenting something that they had asked us to. In such a situation, there was no way that the rubber could hit the road. That was my neutral observation.
 
They did not even know we left the room and the meeting. They ghost walked into the meeting and ghost walked out I guess. Now you know why I suggest the huge potential of Professional Courtesy 101.
Pardon me for going on and on, but here is another one, I promise, this is the last. This meeting is with the Director of a leading Furniture brand. Here again, history repeats itself. In the sense, that this gentleman has inherited the business empire from his father who had built it from scratch. The meeting also included a very professional and enthusiastic marketing head, a recent appointment at the brand. Her energy and commitment was total to give credit where it’s due. That set the hopes high. At the appointed hour, the meeting begins. It was scheduled to be a one hour meeting and the first thing we hear from the Director is that ‘ I have only 20 minutes ‘. Being agile and aware, our team was on the ball to recalibrate and pivot to the new time starved reality. We instantly realised there was a north south divide. Or a church and state relationship. If the projection screen where the presentation was happening was in the north, our 20 minute hand me downer was looking exactly the other way to the south buried deep into his mobile phone. Probably at last count, he had looked at his mobile about 40 times during the course of that ‘ 20 minutes ‘. I can promise you, at the end of it, he certainly was NOT the ‘ Apple of our eye ‘!
 
I am always wonder struck as to where all this stems from- is it a serious inferiority complex? Is it insecurity? Is it clanning? Is it power dynamics aided by cheap signaling? You bet the jury is out on this! But what I am certain about is the tremendous potential of Professional Courtesy 101.
Providers anyone? There is a big market out there waiting to be served!
 
 
ENDS
 
 
 

In the Fitness of Things: a Gym Carry version

We seem to be in an era where ‘wellth‘ is the new health, where a well honed tricep is far more desirable than a heart to heart with a near one and a lot of us mortals are literally dying to get fit. Toss a coin and you are oscillating between orthorexia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. It’s a so-called world of ‘ fitspo ‘.
The concurrent rise of “wellness” and self-tracking technology has ushered in a sort of socially sanctioned “technorexia”. We live in an age where you can never be too rich or too fit. Calorie-counting, which was once considered Bridget Jones-style silly at best and neurotic at worst (largely because it was coded female), is now celebrated as a data-driven route to self-improvement (largely because Silicon Valley has coded it male).
Amidst the din and frenzy that is conveniently ‘ cold pressed ‘ between buycep and a trycep, here’s a suite of everyday observations(which most of you would already be privy to), with tongue firmly in (Instagram) cheek. So, if you like it slow, ‘ jog on ‘.
HUM PAUNCH : These are the 5 Pandavas that occupy the entire walking track laterally(and literally), with familiarity breeding no contempt. The primary motto(no pun intended) and waisted interest here is to respect the status quo(te) of the 46 inch waistlines. Another work of friction that you get to see is their Vaastu compliant (East West sagging) cheeks having the cheek to tickle one another as they pound the streets, as brothers, firmly in arms. PAUNCHo unglee, ghee mein..no surprises!
WALK THE TALK: A big concern for this tribe is ‘ will the miles run out before my talk does ‘ ? As if just coming out of a 8 year gag order. For all the army of RJs suffering from acute verbal diarrhoea, listen in. No ad breaks here. Move over marathon.It’s like a talkathon in (the) flesh.
INSTA(NT) KARMA: These are the direct disciples of Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger (original Co Founders of Instagram). Just like being Vaastu compliant or Euro II Emission compliant, their summer of content revolves around being Instagram Compliant. If it’s FIT for Insta, it’s FIT for me! And you are still left wondering, what comes first..the chicken or the egg..how remiss of you?
COACH COACH HOTHA HAIN : The community of people who are purely and solely moti weighted by a Coach. The ones who go ‘ Coach tho log kahenge ‘ in case they don’t use one. Their engine and loco moti (ve) firmly in the well TRAINed hands of a Coach. So, COACH na kaho and just chug along! Mr Burberry, watch out, Coach is getting all the b(r)agging rights!
SURF BOARD ABS: Don’t know what to call it. ABSurdity or audacity. These are the die hard optimists whose hopes have been severely washed away. The ones who kept washing their abs with Surf till eventually they got absolutely bored. And had nothing to show for it. It will take some time for them to TIDE over the shock. Last heard, they seem to be filing a plaint against Unilever! And the Power Point said: ‘ Mr Surf, you didn’t Excel ‘!
APP THO AISEY NA THEY: It must be apparent what I am referring to. APP jaisa koi meri…A plethora of Apps that have taken over our lives. If memory doesn’t serve it right, some of them hang out of the smartphones by the skin of their pixel as hard to let go APPendages. Shapa, YouAte, YouFood, Fitbit, Myfitnesspal, Strava, Runkeeper,Tim Ferris...even though some of it may be even recommending to weigh your lettuce before eating it.. Data Saman(t)..you there?
THE STORE : This is the individual who has taken the onus of being the brand store on the beach. Old Balance(yet to be settled), Nikey, Over Armour, DontGoPro, Adhi Das(no relation to Vasundhara BTW), Feelips – a walking talking Footlocker without QR Codes. The prep time (for this over equipped first of its kind physical HE Commerce store in true protein form) to get ready for the workout would be nothing less than a couple of hours. Wait till you hear about the workout..after a gruelling, punishing 3.8 Metres run(to and fro, non stop mind you), it’s time to break out into a sweat(bring out the water spray can…simulate sweat beads..time for a selfie).
Are we getting collectively fatter and more sedentary? Is fat and furious going hand in hand?
Do you believe “ Pain is Weakness Leaving The Body” and “Sweat Is Your Fat Crying”? Well, “You Win Some Or You Win Some”!
Time for a workout. And hand sanitisation(Never in my life would I have imagined my hands consuming more alcohol than my mouth). And test my bore strength. To all the BELLYrinas, jog jog jeeyo!
BENDS

RIP Productivity? Productivity Is Not Working!

ESSENTIALism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Sounds blasphemous in this day and age. The art of separating the trivial many from the vital few. A few years ago, I came across this fascinating book and after a gentle outreach and gracious response from Greg McKeown, the author, had me falling for the content Book, Line and Sinker.

Turn the caption statement around: Working is Not Productivity. The message once(and even now) was loud and clear. Relentless self-optimisation was a way to cope, but is it really? Humans are NOT search engines !

There has been always something obscene about the cult of the hustle, the treadmill of alienated insecurity that tells you that the moment you stop running for even an instant, you will be flung flat on your face.

Productivity is not a synonym for health or safety or sanity. I will go onto add that frantic productivity is actually a fear response. It’s a fear response for 21st-century humans in general and millennial humans in particular.

Productivity, or the lack of it, has become the individual metric of choice for coping with the international econo-pathological clusterfuck of the Corona Crisis. Talk about self optimisation: how do we do that and meet deadlines amidst settling our fighting kids, demanding colleagues and handling our screaming inner critics in the name of introspection? You are fortunate to have a roof over your head and you are also expected to use  ‘ this time ‘ to write blogs, launch your podcast and personal kept in the back burner projects and life-hack our way to some cargo-cult pastiche of normality, and if not, are we somehow letting the side down?

Arbeit Macht Frei. Meaning work sets you free. These words first appeared in an 1873 German novel. And later got adopted by Nazis as a slogan. The mantra of work as freedom or a magical route to happiness has proved incredibly resilient. But,as the corona virus crisis is exposing all over again: for billions of people work is none of these things.The reality is that for billions of people around the world , work is a tightrope walk oscillating between indignity and survival. Happiness as the byproduct of the work you do will come across a masterful con job for many.The task on hand now and onerous at that, is to push for a new narrative for work based not on happiness but humanity.

Questions have an in built audacity to be more interesting than answers. And in the febrile weeks that have followed the advent of the Covid-19 lockdowns, the one question that went unabashedly viral was: how do we stay productive when the entire world is going to hell? The virus has upset the human micro biome in an epochal act of strategic surprise.

A whole generation leaned on the fragile learning that relentless work was the way to cope with a rolling crisis with the mood of imminent collapse and economic insecurity that was the piped elevator music of the youth- the relentless tug of war between trying to save yourself and trying to save the world, between desperate aspiration and actual hope.

There could be multiple reasons that we are panicking about work: about to be furloughed or sidelined; or already lost a job. And you are playing catch up(sounds familiar?). Or if you have managed to retain one, you are apprehensive about the long term. And if everything is hunky dory, you are battling at the coat tails of ‘ survivor’s guilt ‘.

We now have a packed schedule: washing up, cooking, cleaning, being a sounding board, lending a helping hand, community work, countless video conference calls with people you have ever and never met and at the end of it hiding in bed hoping that history can’t hear you breathing.

People are working harder than ever but a lot of the work does not fall under the traditional sense of the term ‘ productive ‘. They just don’t count on the ledger of human worth because the economy refuses to value them in its reckoning of what does, because most of it has been done in private, by women, for ages, for free. Making breakfast, making the beds, making sure your friends and family aren’t losing their absolute minds is work that matters more than ever and will continue to matter in the coming decades as crisis follows crisis. It is not “productive,” in the way that most of us have learned to understand what that word means, but it is work, and it is really really worthwhile.

WFH(Work From Home) has seamlessly and unapologetically moved onto W(Work). Geography has become history!

For all those who flaunt their workaholic badges of honour and condescendingly accept the various neurotic flavours that comes with it, let’s come to terms with the fact that we have been conditioned to think that work in the laissez faire zeitgeist is about hyper vigilance. It’s about what happens to people when they are trapped in abusive circumstances and cannot escape. Psychologist Judith Herman observed that “the ultimate effect of [psychological domination] is to convince the victim that the perpetrator is omnipotent, that resistance is futile, and that her life depends upon winning his indulgence through absolute compliance.” We haven’t been able to shrug of the mega legacy of the Industrial Age: Compliance. Phew!

The idea that hustling can save you from calamity is an article of faith, not fact—and the Covid-19 pandemic is starting to shake the collective faith in individual striving. The doctrine of “workism” places the blame for global catastrophe squarely on the individual: If you can’t get a job because jobs aren’t there, you must be lazy, or not hustling hard enough. That’s the story that young and young-ish people tell themselves, even as they have spent the whole of their brief, broke working lives paying for the mistakes of the old, rich, and stupid. They internalised the collective failures of the ruling class as personal failings that could be fixed by working smarter, or harder, or both—because that, at least, meant that they might be able to fix them themselves. Unfair!

After the quarantine, after we count the lives lost or ruined, recession is coming. A big one. For many, especially millennials, it’s the second devastating economic calamity in their short working lives( the first being the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-9), and they are still carrying the trauma of the first. This time, though, they know it’s not their fault. This time it’s abundantly clear that they don’t deserve it. And this is exactly the sort of crisis that gives people ideas about overturning the social order.

The cult of productivity doesn’t have an answer for this crisis. Self-optimising will not save us this time, although saying so feels surprisingly blasphemous. There is nothing counterrevolutionary about keeping busy. But right now, we have a finite opportunity to rethink how we value ourselves, to re-examine our metric for measuring the worth of human lives.

Time for ESSENTIALism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

ENDS

https://www.groupisd.com/story
https://www.brandknewmag.com
https://www.brandknew.groupisd.com
https://www.weeklileaks.com
 

 

 

Has the AIDA Model in the Customer Journey become outdated?

125 years is a long amount of time. The AIDA model was developed by the American businessman, E. St. Elmo Lewis, in 1898. The original purpose was to optimise sales calls, specifically the interaction between seller and buyer concerning the product.

Just to expand on the acronym(and the obvious):

  • A = attract
  • I = interest
  • D = desire
  • A = action
Of course the AIDA model is helpful as it provides focus on each area of the customer journey. That being said, allow me a bit of purposeful provocation.
Let’s look at a few reasons why the AIDA model is up for scrutiny:
– Post the ‘ action ‘ stage, the brand is not engaging or conversing with the customer. There is nothing happening after the purchase. In the context of how important customer retention and loyalty is for marketers, this is a pain point.
– In fact, the majority of actions taken by users on social media when it comes to reaching out to a brand involve experience (aka they’ve already interacted with your brand) and for customer service issues (aka they’re already a customer).
Pl refer to the below infographic from Sprout Social on ‘ why consumers message a brand on social media ‘:
The prognosis is that on social media, nearly 96 percent of people contact a brand beyond AIDA, assuming they’re already a customer.
– The AIDA model was constructed during a phase wherein we were in a  ‘ Caveat Emptor ‘ or Buyer Beware situation. We are now in a ‘ Caveat Venditor ‘ phase or Seller Beware mode. All the more reason for brands to be in continuous engagement and conversation post action/purchase.
 
– In an increasingly commoditised world, Customer Experience is your best product.
– Incredible, always on accessibility has driven consumers to crave experiences that are both instant and convenient.
 
– Experiences are no longer between the company and the customer. Any customer experience can become public news overnight.
– Because it’s easy enough to find a great product for a decent price these days. What’s harder to find is a seamless, customer-centric brand experience.
– Brand Loyalty is on the decline. We are in a ”Switching economy”. 86% of customers would pay more for a better customer experience(Kolsky).
– The biggest thing missing when brands manage the customer journey? Conversations.
So, how do we look at a model that can replace AIDA? You must have heard of ‘ Conversational Marketing ‘ – this is more on the lines of ACCA:
A: attract
 
C: convert
 
C: close
 
D: delight
The below infographic devised by B Squared Media is self explanatory.
Think of conversational marketing as having real-time conversations with your would-be or actual customers.
Additionally, you might want to check out this feature in BrandKnew on Conversational Marketing at https://www.brandknewmag.com/does-your-2020-marketing-strategy-include-conversational-marketing/
The model is still pretty simple. Each part of the customer journey allows for conversations between you and your would-be (or actual) customers. And if we think about customer experience, that’s what sets the superior brands apart.
Everyone knows when they are dealing with a customer centric brand. It shows. You can feel it. Sure you can go deep and crazy with customer experience but, you can also focus on conversations.
Conversations are the ignored, low hanging fruit of almost every business.
Just to let you in on a little secret: all of the marketing buzzwords(influencers! loyalty ! revenue !) live inside of customer care efforts and for some inexplicable reason, most brands are completely overlooking this part of the journey.
The script to write for brands and marketers in organisations is to move from ROI (in the conventional sense) to ROE( Return on Experience). And any kind of transformative customer experience begins with an engaging employee experience. 
In a culture of immediacy, people are becoming ever-more impatient when it comes to their transactions and brand engagement.
Some Food For Thought

– More than half of consumers (55 percent) have intended to conduct a business transaction or make a purchase, but decided not to because of a poor service experience- American Express

-89 percent of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service- RightNow Customer Experience Satisfaction Report

-50 percent of consumers give a brand only one week to respond to a question before they stop doing business with them. – RightNow Customer Experience Satisfaction Report

– A 10% increase in customer retention levels increases the value of a company by 30%- Bain & Company
– You need to get to the future, ahead of your customers, and be ready to greet them when they arrive”- March Benioff, CEO, Salesforce.com
Before I sign off, some customer experience benchmarks that are worthy of emulation would include:
Walt Disney: Stooping To Excellence
ACE Hardware: Helpful Hardware People
Ritz Carlton: Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen
Amazon:Building the earth’s most customer centric organisation

 

A contrarian view as I hang up:

The truth is of course is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time: David Bowie

ENDS

https:www.groupisd.com/story

https:www.brandknewmag.com

https:www.brandknew.groupisd.com

https:www.weeklileaks.com

 

 

Getting HysterLyrical: A Feeble Attempt: Deciphering Gulzar!

Disclaimer
Ardent, hardened fan. Pardon the unabashed bias.
Only a select few songs written by Gulzar covered in this post. The first six in the playlist I ran into.
Other noteworthy,iconic contributors like the Music Directors, Actors, Directors, Singers etc discussed fleetingly only, if at all.
It’s Only Words ‘. As went the Bee Gees written and sung classic. And in our context, given a memorable second homecoming by my immensely gifted, impossibly shy nephew Abhinav, on the two occasions that he let himself to ‘relative’ scrutiny. The other occasion being a real wake up call ‘ Hello ‘, originally called out by Lionel Richie.
Dusk is fast approaching. I am at my customary dusktop. I mean desktop. Giving it my ride of place. Seeing the crimson orange of an aggrieved sun going down seething, seeing a world doing the same old, same old. Almost calling out, ‘ Rise Above ‘, tomorrow is another day. Even it has conceded that orange is the new black. And ready for stranger things, sacred games and all of that.
The hiss of the bluetooth speaker concealed the eager anticipation- bliss was on the way. His Masters Choice.
First off the block, rolling in ambled elegance was ” Mera Kuch Samaan Tumhare Paas Pada Hain ” from Ijazat : If permission marketing was to be accorded a pride of place, this would be it. Never before has an inanimate object like ‘ samaan ‘, carried so much weight. The sheer power of gravitas. And a scintillating Asha readily giving into a discerning audience’s Croon Bhari Maang. The lyrical audacity of something that is staggeringly prescient, a mighty countercultural anthem of resistance and resilience. As if he was on a mission to humble pathos. Humbled! Kylie, if I were to be in bed, I was sure to have ‘ Tears on My Pillow ‘.
(Caveat: Gulzar was also the Director of Ijazat. So, him having a free hand, would be more than a pen or a pun. It would be a gross understatement).
There was no time to recover as the next was our very own. Yes. ” Koi Hotha Jisko Apna, Hum Apna Keh Lethe Yaaron ” from Mere Apne. Apne as a thought is big enough and Mere Apne makes it Machiavellian. Such a war of words in the battle of the mind. A relentless avalanche of angst, where desolate meets desperate, but to no avail. Begging the question, is it great expectations or a humble, easily addressable request? Was it a point of  view or a point of no return vulnerability? Vignettes of loss and life unfold. Nudging us into wilful introspection. Questions remain!
BTW, how can anyone wear tight pants, a non descript shirt, ride a hopelessly dilapidated, too tired looking Atlas bicycle(that had done its savage rebellion against any form of design thinking), sport dusty chappals( as if a deliberate ploy to look comprehensively impoverished) and still look like a million dollars plus? I really don’t know but we could have asked Vinod Khanna(RIP).
It was getting past supper time by now and what got dished out next was savoury in every sense. A breezy belter from Namkeen: ” Raah Pe Rahte Hain, Yado Pe Basar Karte Hain “. And to imagine this was written several years before Ryan Holiday’s seminal book ‘ The Obstacle Is The Way ‘.. a weary traveller and concurrently where(y) traveller..romanticising the ‘ make do ‘, questioning the very deeply rooted idea of ‘ domicile ‘, a gentle reminder that the most expensive, ‘ moveable ‘ but non transferrable piece of real estate is one’s ‘ memory ‘. ” Aasman ka koi kona, thoda so gaye ..” this is not writing, it is rioting to say sky is not the limit..heaven can wait!
This para would be incomplete without the mention of another brilliant actor Sanjeev Kumar(RIP). His nonchalant, effortless, freewheeling manipulation of a Tata 1210 Truck(with NO Power Steering) in rain and throwing caution to the GPS wind, no holds barred, was the real inspiration for Ratan Tata to buy out Jaguar Landrover some years back. It was truck by chance. Where there is a wheel, there is a way.
Have you ever tried out wholemeal buns with cheese spread (as if sent by Whats App) on it? Well it tastes like saw dust with a lavish dose of water. That was my dinner done and well, dusted. By this time, I had reconciled to the fact that this evening was ‘ different ‘. Like this hum dinger that followed from Khamoshi: ” Woh Sham Kuch Ajeeb Thi, Yeh Shaam Bhi Ajeeb Hain “. A rocking the boat prose that finds comfort at the shores of poetic fluidity. High on hope on the one hand( a peace of mind to be falling on your lap), while being higher on hopelessness on the other, a radical candour that blended apprehension, tentativeness, expectation, vividly echoing a so near, yet so far feeling. The first two stanzas if you observe closely in the song are taking a juxtaposed stance, a first ever probably in Hindi film song writing. It was Khamoshi talking. And the silence was deafening.

By now even the playlist had a premonition of my fate at dinner and offered something utterly therapeutic. In the form of ” Tujse Naraaz Nahin Zindagi Hairan Hoon Main ” from Masoom. If innocence in its purest virgin form could drum up a reservoir of guilt, nothing could have explained better. A stark reminder that our collective memory always tends towards amnesia and erasure especially of periods scarred by shame. The human propensity for appearing rather than being. How one of your biggest assets ie a smile can appear as a burden of liability. मुस्कुराऊं कभी तो लगता है जैसे होंठो पे क़र्ज़ रखा है. ​Whoa!

Prime Time was setting in on Television and the options were not exactly mouth watering. Kumkum Bhagya, Alladin, Naagin 4 (at it’s serpentine best against common sense) and Suryavansham’s 843rd re run on Set Max. And of course, Say Yes To The Dress. The risk averse me took the easier option. Staying true with Gulzar. And it was only a question of time before ” Aane Wala Pal Jaane Wala Hain ” from Golmaal streamed in. Something about capturing life in a moment. Starting a movement. Acting as the emissary of time. एक बार वक्त से, लम्हा गिरा कहीं.. probably one of the most landmark lines written. Re iterating The Power of Now as Eckhart Tolle would have called it. Living in the moment. Not clinging onto our various illusions of stability and permanence that allow us to go on averting our gaze from our finitude, from the fact that we too will one day be washed into the impartial waters of time. Period.
Time to hang up on this post. To the Word Play of the Wordly Wise, the Word Smith, to the every Word’s Worth it. Respect. Gulzar. The Czar.
ENDS
PS: Just received “ Br(e)aking News “. SONY, the Japanese brand, is planning to sue a lot of song writers who have been using ‘ SONY ‘ in every 3rd line of their song for Copyright Infringement. Just a heads up!