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Showing posts from 2015

Uninformed or Misinformed?

"If you don't read the newspaper, 
                 you are uninformed; If you do read the newspaper, 
                      you are misinformed."                                                     - Mark Twain

Since I do to have figures of India, I refer to American statistics as an indicator.
Why refer to America? Because Mark Twain was referring to American media and capitalistic America has driven modern global trends in technology and social change for past 100 years.

Television, news media and publishing whether it is books, magazines,or newspapers, were originally set up to provide a news service and generate advertisement revenue to subsidise the cost of bringing news to the public. 

Now news is just a fig leaf for advertising revenues. When any entity is driven only for maximising revenue, hook or by crook it sells its soul. Now news has to be distorted, manipulated or downright fabricated to please those who pay money, for  business, social, political or military gain…

Attack Problems not People

Attack Problems, 
Not People

When gasoline was dirt cheap

Standard Oil Refinery -1910
When Gasoline/Petrol was so Cheap it was Worthless 

During the early days of Standard Oil (this was before cars became popular), kerosene was the name of the game. Gasoline /petrol, a by-product of petroleum distillation to produce kerosene, didn't have much demand. It was a cheap product used to treat lice and a solvent to remove grease stains from clothing ... In fact, gas was so cheap that oil companies used to dump it in rivers!

Wanted for treason or President?

If you are sincere and work for the larger good of the people, do not make money for yourself or other backers then you are a liability. You will most likely be tried and executed. 

If you wheel and you deal, and if you fake your sincerity and make yourself and other backers fabulously rich you will be wanted to be made the head of state. 

What do you want to do?

Stabbing His Own Heart

Stabbing His Own Heart

Werner Theodor Otto Forssmann, a German surgical trainee in 1929, is famous for an experiment he performed on himself. 
He proposed a procedure but he was scorned. He believed in the approach so passionately and unable to get permission by the authorities to try it out he performed the procedure on himself.
Without any direction, he put himself under local anesthetic, incised a hole in his arm and pushed a catheter all the way up his limb and shoved it into his heart. He performed the procedure on himself with two feet of cable after which he walked to the X-ray room. He was fired after this so called stunt, but was awarded the 1956 Nobel Prize for Medicine for developing a procedure that allowed for cardiac catheterization.
If you wish to learn about the amazing life of this great man please visit Werner_Forssmann

Do we really have a problem?

When my junior colleagues approached me and said, "Sir we have a problem".

I used to immediately ask, "What is the problem?"

That was it, then I was in a big trouble. Then a lot of my precious time would  be consumed in listening to loads of moaning and whining.

Unfortunately, the reward for good work is more work. If you are good at solving issues, you are inundated with more issues to tackle.

So I became a magnet for problems and issues. Initially one gets excited about the ability to tackle issues, after sometime one begins to tire and then frustration sets in which turns into rage.

Frustration often leads to depression and that is unhelpful and rage is a kind of insanity and highly self destructive. 

Many clients also often tell me, "You know the problem is ......... " or "You don't understand what the problem is." 

They are probably right, I do not understand. The greater issue is, that they themselves also do not know or understand what t…

To decide means what?

The words “decision” and “decide” stem from the roots “cise” and “cide,” to cut off and to kill, also the roots of many other words related to cutting and killing, such as “incise,” “concise” (cutting out nonessentials), and “homicide.” Thus, a decision is to cut off, or kill, other possibilities. - Michael Ellsberg. (The Education of Millionaires)

Use of Force

The direct use of Force is such a poor Solution to any Problem. It is generally employed only by small Children and Large Nations.

 -David Friedman

Office Efficiency - Central Social Institution, Prague, 1937

The offices of the Central Social Institution of Prague, 

Czechoslovakia. April 1937

“The offices of the Central Social Institution of Prague, Czechoslovakia with the largest vertical letter file in the world. Consisting of cabinets arranged from floor to ceiling tiers covering over 4000 square feet containing over 3000 drawers 10 feet long. It has electric operated elevator desks which rise, fall and move left or right at the push of a button. to stop just before drawer desired. The drawers also open and close electronically. Thus work which formerly taxed 400 workers is now done by 20 with a minimum of effort.

Ref: B196_095071_3660 Date: 26.04.1937 Compulsory Credit: UPPA/Photoshot”

Authority & Responsibility

Responsibility without authority is impotence.

Authority without responsibility  is dictatorship

By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen

In 2009, 26 year old Vaibhav Bedi sued Hindustan Lever Limited the company that sold the AXE brand of grooming products for men. He claimed that the company had cheated him, caused him mental suffering and caused him significant financial loss, by misleading him about the effectiveness of Axe products. 

Advertisements suggest that  Axe products make men irresistible to women.

Vaibhav failed to attract any girls, even after regularly using Axe products for over seven years. However when his maid beat him with a broom, Vaibhav's patience had run out. All Vaibhav was trying to do, was to impress the maid, by appearing naked in front of her after applying various Axe products. 

Vaibhav Bedi is not alone. Billions of people  are routinely misled. This deception is dignified by calling it creative marketing. It is employed by most big manufacturers and marketeers, with complicity by the media of course who are always ready to make a buck.

Rich, famous, powerful and beautiful, many of them p…

Who said that?

World War II was a bloody and sickening affair. A dirty and shameful blot on human history. It was not a war for truth or justice etc. but as usual it was about power. The rivalry between established world powers of France, Great Britain, United States, USSR and want to be great powers of Germany, Japan and Italy.  Nevertheless, 80 Million people died due to wounds, and war induced disease and famine The former Soviet Union alone lost 26.6 Million people. 

Unfortunately behind everything we see or experience in the material world is about power. First they fight, then they decide what is the noble cause for which they are fighting. They fight, then they weep.

"It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it."
General Robert E. Lee

The Soviet Union was led by their leader Josef Stalin. Stalin was frequently described by Lenin as "a course, brutal, bully". Stalin's willingness to sacrifice large number of his u…

Don't steal my thunder

Henry Ford the American legend, was obsessed with being the only shareholder and manager of his company.  Ford carefully analysed the work and its flow and broke up the tasks into the smallest possible elements so that tasks could be performed without application of mind or spirit repeatedly by faceless and nameless workers. Henry Ford designed his operations so that workers were completely dispensable and easily replaceable by any other able bodied worker.

This approach inhumane as it may appear, gave the brilliant Henry Ford, tremendous improvements in productivity and savings in cost, helping Ford to leave his competitors a long way behind. Initial success was phenomenal. In early 1920’s Ford motor company’s share of American automotive market was an eye popping 75%. This approach soon thereafter became a norm in all industries. (This is why majority of trade union activities focussed more on work conditions than only on increase in wages.)

Henry Ford was obsessed with being in pe…

You have a problem?

Success needs no explanation and failure tolerates no excuse.

Yet few people appreciate this point. Many people who fail, dole out excuses one after another, everyone and everything else is to blame except themselves. The situation is most pathetic, when owners, managers and leaders blame their own employees, team members and followers.

Their opening statement is "The problem is ........", and this is followed by a long tirade or moan of nonsense.

The first step in solving a 'problem' is, to learn what is the problem? Surprisingly most people have no idea what the problem is?

A problem is defined as an obstruction 'C' which prevents you from going from  Situation 'A'  to situation 'B'.

Unfortunately most people don't know where they are, where they want to get to and what is obstructing them. In that case the person does not have a problem, they just have an excuse for their failure.


If you go to a restaurant, there is almost always a waiter to serve you. The reason the person is called a waiter is he or she waits on you.

The waiter's job is to wait. To not only wait but also watch and respond to the guest seeking information or some service. 

No one likes to be summoned by the snapping of fingers, talked down in a demeaning manner or to clean up an unnecessary mess. The waiter's job is challenging especially when demands of guests are unreasonable.

While waiting is common in restaurants, what do we say when this happens in organisations? It is quite common for even highly qualified and senior people having to wait on their bosses and political masters.

Many bosses and even heads of families like to hold a grand audience with several people waiting on them. This makes them feel important while making people around them feel small and no more than minions.

Shockingly many an organisation and even families that I advise  or work with, unfortunately have a number …

If I want your opinion.

It was the year of 1992 and I one of the proud owners of our family's rather large  manufacturing business.

The head of engineering Mr. Pange and I had just reviewed his very attractive proposal to save our company a great deal of money and also improve quality significantly.

I gazed at this soft spoken man with amazement and respect and asked Mr.Pange,  "we are lucky to have you on our team. I am sure  you must have saved your previous employer a lot of money and problems?" 

He replied "Not a single rupee,Sir"
"Why?" I asked incredulously.

He said, "I presented my boss with an fantastic proposal which would have done wonders for the organisation, but he refused to even listen. It was the first and last time I made a suggestion until I joined you."

His boss insultingly dismissed him saying, "If I want your opinion, I will give it to you. Now get back to work"

Release the Genie carefully

Every child learns about the all powerful genie trapped inside a bottle or lamp. This genie needs a master to release it from the bottle. The master gets his or her one or three wishes and then what?

The genie that has power to give whatever is desired is obviously very powerful. It does not want to return to the lamp or bottle and the master cannot force it to return. The genie MUST have purpose or else it becomes a nuisance to itself and to everyone.

We humans are not much different from the genie in the bottle.  Once discovered and released like the Genie the power of individuals and teams and organisations can be immense and once they get committed to a cause they are virtually unstoppable.

Most of us have some form of genius within us, but we have to discover it.
Sadly most of us are in a kind of stupor imposed  on us by our social conditioning. Our family, teachers, governments, society and employers.  They do this because all they want is to use people, rather exploit would be more…

No heart, no mind, just bodies

We had invited a niece for dinner. She works for a famous but struggling information technology company.

Arriving rather late, she explained, "Actually my work got done quite a long while ago but we just hang around because that is our company culture. They say that it is the responsibility of employees to hang around for longer periods at the workplace on their own time."

Could it be insecure managers and leaders, or employers trying to extract the maximum from their people for what they pay them, that cause such a culture to be imposed.  Such behaviour is mostly counterproductive as I learnt.

I asked her what she felt about having to work an extra 2 to 3 hours of her time?

She said, "It is unfair and stupid. Most people have no inspiration, are mostly demotivated, in fact they are anti organisational and often work against the organisation's interest, by doing the minimal amount of work, slowing things down, not pointing out problems or weaknesses, and not attent…

An idea is a delicate thing.

A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn. 
It can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man's brow.

- Ovid

Which type of leader is best?

Most people have ideas, but only few express them and fewer have the courage to share them and rare are the people who get the opportunity to implement them.  

In that sense I have been fortunate to be bursting with ideas and concepts, articulate them freely and had great opportunities to try them out. I am often invited to speak to students, and various groups. The topics vary but leadership is rather high in demand.

There seems to be very many myths about leadership. There is a belief that leadership is about amassing power and repeatedly demonstrating that power. 

When leading blood thirsty hordes then physical control is preferable, and the leader may have to be at the front of the mob or troops to inspire them. Leading from the front is sometimes required, but only under exceptional circumstances like a grave crisis. However the leader who demands that he or she be central and involved in every thought and action of the organisation or family is actually doing  great disservice t…

I have found the problem, it is I.

Blaming others is easy and allows us to deny the reality, that we may be the problem or the one causing the problem.

We try to solve problems by changing partners, friends, and team members but rarely ourselves.

A sure sign of a problematic person is one who sees negative things in everyone and everything all the time.

Are you the problem or the solution?

Ratan Tata sets an example at Jaguar (JLR)

Tata Motors the 314th largest company in the world, acquired  UK based Jaguar Land Rover PLC from Ford Motor Company in June 2008 for $ 2.3 Billion (Rs 14,000 Crores).

Soon after the acquisition was completed, Mr. Ratan Tata the head of Tata group called for a meeting in London to be attended by all the key persons of JLR.

JLR is a premium luxury  car manufacturer and 45 of the top executives of all the plants, and markets came to London, either in the company's own private jets or chartered aircraft to attend. A rather extravagant expenditure.
Mr. Ratan Tata, on the other hand, took a commercial flight from Mumbai to London. He then took a taxi from Heathrow airport to the office of JLR. People at JLR were astonished. How could such a big man, be so simple and unassuming?
The meetings took place without Mr. Tata mentioning the lavish style of management, and unnecessary wastage of money.
Many people earn money only to squander it, they may be rich only for a short spell. The wealthy i…