Thursday, April 28, 2011

Am happy

From a student at T.I.M.E. Ahmedabad:

Thank you Sir,
Your concept of creativity
helped me a lot to convert
#$$#^%$^ call. Regards
to you Sir. Thank you so

* Institute name in the above message obscured by me
* Center aligned by me. Division of message-lines, courtesy my BB screen

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Motorcycle industry suffering from imitancy

As avid a motorcycler as I am, it surprises me that I've been without a motorcycle for almost 2 years now. When I am out on the street I keep looking at motorcycles, pretty intently, as if one of them (the motorcycle models) will really really fascinate me and propel me to buy it.

But it doesn't happen. All the motorcycles more or less look the same. Similar lines, similar essence. The entire industry, especially in India, is suffering from imitancy.

A model has to make shit loads of money for the manufacturers. If there is a slight inkling that it will make a little less money then it won't be launched. At least that's what I gather from all the action happening in this space.

Companies making hundreds and thousands of crores of money aren't launching any niche products. As sales in lacs is the only success parameter for a model, aficionados are barely getting the stuff which would excite them.

No doubt, many enthusiasts revel in whatever is available and affordable and make the best of the situation. But the more I've come to appreciate the nuances of motorcycling, the more difficult it is for me to accept the current crop of motorcycles.

Yamaha is an exception. R15 and FZ-16 do break the mould. I might go for one of these if nothing appropriate (read Kawasaki W800, Yamaha RD350, etc. type bikes) launches in the near future.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

On jamming and the music of business

Language of music is obvious. For two people to jam, they only need to hear one another's music before they decide to jam and make some good music.

The language of words isn't so obvious. For words are only but symbolic representations. These symbols represent motivations, intentions, images, desires, feelings and what not.

Feeling is 'envy', symbolic presentation is 'I really appreciate that'. Feeling is 'sexy', symbolic representation could turn out to be 'cute'.

Apart from sports and music, all other acts require dependence on words for jamming. But if word-driven representations are so uncertain, wonder what shape jamming through words would take. Music is a far cry.

Unfortunately, there are very few ways other than 'using words' through which jamming for the purpose of business is possible, at least in the shorter run. In the longer run, there are other ways which can make jamming possible. Like? Simple observation of each other in day to day life over a period of time.

But given the nature of business in modern age and the time limits we've given to our own ambitions, 'words' seem to be the best recourse. But the best recourse is fraught with vagueness of a very high order.

Any other means of jamming? For clearly, I am failing to make sense of words and their representations. And there's no music without jamming.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pricing your Consulting Services

This model is meant to help those consultants who are struggling to get it right with the clients, who feel they are exploited by the clients and do not have a way to stem the rot, who feel that clients cannot appreciate their expertise or their efforts, who in general find it difficult to put the right price tag to their services. For more assistance on this model, call me (+919099189174) begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (+919099189174)      end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Or send an SMS if this helps even a little bit.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shahrukh Khan's political drama movie

In today's TOI sports page:

O dear Khansaab! Why bother! Dada apni dekhbhaal khud kar sakte hain and khud hi karte hain! Aapne cricket mein involve hone ki permission ke liye itne paise diye toh ab aap cricket mein 'political drama' movie banane lag gaye! Kolkattans ke tickets nahi milenge aapko! Aur IPL ka title bhi nahi milega, in all likelihood.

Spare Ganguly, Mr. Khan! He understands Cricket better than you do.

While KKR is not synonymous to Ganguly, Kolkattans and many many Indians do not have enough reasons to support you Mr. Khan or your cricketing acumen!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Consulting, Superstore & Zoo

It's such a paradox. Consultants are brought in to offer custom solutions. Expertise tailored to the needs of a client. However, what I see is that clients aren't happy simply getting tailor-made stuff. Na! Give them options. Once they see the options, remark, "This doesn't 'look' good." You sit with a look asking, "Why?" The answer is, "Hmmmmmmm... It doesn't."

I call this 'the superstore effect'. Just stack the racks with truckloads of stuff. Let the buyer walk in and pick. And mind you, conversations could be labelled unnecessary. Just let them see and decide.

The thing is consultants offer 'thought' products. Forget about producing options, even one thought product isn't easy to create. Here you have to create shelves and shelves of options! For all these options, the response could just be a browsing walk in the aisle!

And when it comes to offering 'options' of thought products, some times it's akin to a zoo. Clients just walk in for a stroll with the kids, observe these creatures, poke fun and go back. Memories of the creatures, their weirdities and some pictures...

What I learn from my decision to stay away from the biggies

Throughout my career so far, I've chosen to work with smaller (even call them start-up-like) outfits. And now acting as an independent consultant, I can say that I'm working for a start-up again.

Why did I choose to do so? Premises & assumptions?

First, the premises:
  1. I have a far greater propensity to take risks, accept challenges and get adventurous (in spite of the fact that I panic a lot)
  2. I get bored much too soon. Situations without challenges just make me go to sleep at unusual times. In fact, my days becomes blighted if there isn't an engrossing situation at hand
  1. Bigger organizations (and agencies) are very hierarchy-driven and therefore, rigid
  2. There are fewer challenges
  3. Growth, in terms of learning, is limited
  4. They are safe (in terms of job security and related factors)
Probably I've tested the following hypotheses through my career moves:
  1. Joining smaller organizations will offer more challenges. Consequently I will be able to apply myself far better and derive results through my application/dedication
  2. There would be far more learning and far lesser boredom
  3. I'll be able to sell (on the basis of my understanding, skills and thinking prowess) much better
  1. Bigger organizations have great people. Bigger agencies have great people. The two match each other in terms of size and competence. Naturally the two deliver together. It isn't thinking that matters. One good person's thinking is all it takes. Where the matter is one of volumes, what matters is the capacity to execute.
  2. 'Sense of safety' is a far greater lure than 'sense of pursuing challenges'. Even for the greatest thinking minds.
  3. Big organizations are big today coz they had great thinking, juggling, talking, selling minds to begin with and they still have the minds which can manage things at a massive scale. No mean feat.
  4. Managing scale and thinking great ideas are two entirely different things. I must concede, managing scale is tougher than thinking great ideas. Managing scale is a challenge and is more important (definitely, can say that in the shorter run) than thinking great ideas.
  5. Living within a hierarchy and squeezing oneself through it all is also a commendable challenge.
  6. Brands are bigger than individual abilities. Bigger organizations are brands. Siddharth Soni isn't yet. Brands reached there earlier. Brands sell far more easily than Siddharth Soni's understanding/thinking prowess/selling abilities.
  7. If smaller organizations stay small even after some time, perhaps they didn't have the best thinking, juggling, talking, selling minds. 
So, is there any emancipation? :)

Of course, out of all the curious and the adventure-seeking people, out of all the people starting start-ups, some will juggle, talk and balance better. Some will rough it out. Some might just, simply going by probabilities, reach a greater scale and turn into big organizations anyway.

Some may just grow qualitatively, stay small and still command the prices that can match those of any of the biggies. I wonder though what's the way to survive for such people. Living a low-cost, high sacrifice life and keeping the thinking and talking and and juggling and enthusiasm and selling abilities intact. In fact, improve on them. Hope I can give a testimonial story on this in the time to come.

And the realizations here might not be exhaustive!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The critical question for a consultant

like me is, "Who gets to decide?"

No, am not asking, "Who is the decision-maker at the client's end?" I am asking, "Between the client and consultant, who gets to decide?"

One would say, "It's the client's business. He/she's spending the money; goes without saying he/she would decide."

Whoever said that spending money helps one make an appropriate (or a great) decision. In the first place, a consultant is hired because in certain respects the client lacks the capacity to make decisions. And also lacks the skills which would help him take decisions.

And most often spending money would not imply that the client has developed the capacity to make decisions or has learnt the skills which would help him take decisions.

It seems to me that, right at the outset, a consultant must ask the client, "Who gets to decide?" Depending on the answer, the consultant can determine what role he plays. That of a decision-making consultant? Or that of a consultant whose job is just to furbish all sorts of options for the client to consider and take a decision?

A lot of heartburn can be avoided (and satisfaction can be guaranteed) when, for a consultant, that one question is addressed clearly. What role would you be happy/satisfied playing?

And someone might say, "Why can't both take a decision based on mutual agreement/consensus?" Try it. Am observing.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wish all kids have access to one!

Is this litte message innocuous or dangerous?

Sent on my BlackBerry® from Vodafone

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The non-responsive is dead

In a situation of 'explicit' communication, I observe (many a time, my own self) these phenomena among people. I am talking specifically from the point of view of the person who 'initiates' the communication. 'Initiate' could mean that one has prompted the other person for a response. So, let's say that the initiator invites the other person for something. Now, given the initiator's propensity to stay reasonably patient, he sees it like this; mind you this isn't exhaustive:
  • The other person responds
    • 'yes' (exhilaration for the initiator)
    • 'no' (disappointment for the initiator)
    • indecisive
  • The other person doesn't respond 
    • coz he/she doesn't care for the person
    • coz he/she is indifferent to the matter
    • coz he/she just forgets
    • coz he/she is still thinking
    • coz he/she wants to 'play'
      • wants to show 'importance'
      • wants to elicit better deal
      • wants whatever
    • coz whatever
You see non-responsiveness is such a challenge for the initiator. And it seems that non-responding is such a great strategy for the other person to inflict any kind of torture on the initiator.

My thought: consider the non-responsive person as dead and make alternative arrangements. It's sort of tragic but that 'assumption of the dead' is as great an answer as the one received from anyone who responds.

What happens when the dead suddenly wakes up? Rejoice. Or think and decide at that moment. You also have a choice - to respond or not to!

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I don't recall the last time I received so many greetings. Though I am not an avid Facebook socialite, I must credit it for bringing people closer on such occasions and generating the sparks again. There were a lot of sparks anyway last nite! Memorable b'day.

I've spent quite a bit of time responding to everyone's b'day messages today. Nice! Guess that's how I am gonna check Facebook. Every Sunday.

Achieving entrepreneurial ambitions

needs 3 things to my mind:
  • have a mission
  • ability to live a low-cost existence
  • investing in our own skills
If I convert these 3 points as questions for you, how do you fare?

Friday, April 1, 2011