Monthly Archives: March 2004

Madhukar’s Musings

Prof Madhukar Shukla on Management Literacy

……a large number of MBA graduates merely acquire “management literacy” – they know the latest terms, frameworks, formula, etc., but very, very few actually stretch themeselves to apply these to other domains (other than the quizzes and exams)… which is somewhat sad, given that most of them are bright people, and will be taking decisions which will affect others…

One way to understand this situation is to believe that once people start working, they also learn to apply these skills, understand the context, etc., and so, become educated. But I don’t think that lack of work-experience is the only rationale of this state-of-affairs. It has, in my understanding, something to do with the premium value (mainly in terms of its earning potential) which is given to the MBA degree, and which attracts a large number of people who are just looking for a nice lucrative job – and not towards becoming a professsional…..



Management Lesson from Sehwag !

No sooner had Veeru from Najafgarh become the highest scoring Indian cricketer than we have management lessons from his approach (phew!)

OK so here is what the Economic Times thinks Sehwag can teach the corporate world !

Play by your rules, not the Opposition’s.

How can business benefit from this approach? Simple: ignore the competition, just focus on the customer. The issue, as with Sehwag, is not to react or respond to what the opposition is doing, but simply to set your own target irrespective of their efforts – and then pursue that target single-mindedly.

It’s all about core competence

Whether he succeeds or fails, Sehwag never abandons his approach. Not for him is the motto of flexibility or adjusting to the situation. Hell, he doesn’t even appear to know the situation. What’s crucial, too, about Sehwag’s choice of core competence is its affinity with his natural ability. He knows he can hit the ball hard and clean – and anywhere. So, that’s the ability that he has made his mainstay, instead of chasing competences like solidity a la Rahul Dravid or style along the lines of Sourav Ganguly.

History is not a mistake.

Veeru believes there is no such thing as history – there is only an endless attempt to fulfill one’s tryst with one’s target by treading the same path over and over and over again.
So can it be with companies wooing the customer. If you know something should work with the customer, don’t be afraid if the first attempt fails. Try the same thing again and again and again: as long as your homework wasn’t way off the mark, you will hit paydirt sooner rather than later.

Skills matters more than technique.

The lesson in for corporate competitors? Forget the homework. What matters is what you’re actually doing out there in the marketplace, in the thick of things. And what matters there is how well you can do what you’re best at. The idea is to simply focus on that one activity your DNA is programmed to do, and improve on its execution continuously. Add to that the act of goal-setting – just one target, please, not multiple objectives – and you’re there.

The magic %age figure?

In the HRgyan egroup someone asked this question:
Can I have attrition rate in % in Indian IT industry, which is permissibble and not alarming

My response:
In my view there exists no such magic figure.

Your HR and business leadership have to be comfortable with a certain
figure and that depends on various extraneous and internal factors

If you are doing work for which talent pool is extremely limited then
even a 5% rate might feel very painful and vice versa


from the BusinessPundit’s Blog

The Problem of Value-Added Operations

In business school I was taught to examine the operations of a company, figure out which ones added value, and try to get rid of as much of the rest as possible. That is a very simple idea. If you make widgets, then the more time your people spend actually making widgets, the more profitable you will be. But it ignores one huge fact – sometimes the value added by an action is not quantifiable.

If I owned a carpet cleaning company, I will probably get more business if my cleaning trucks are… well, clean of course. But how clean? B-school theory says that the carpet cleaners should spend as much time cleaning carpet as possible – that is how we make money. But truck cleanlinesss, cleaner training, and all that stuff really does affect the bottom line. Unfortunately, it isn’t always measureable. What they won’t tell you in business school is that you sometimes just use trial and error. In theory, if spending some time training makes you a better sales rep or carpet cleaner or cashier, you should spend more time training. But is that 10%, 40%, 80% of your time? When do you hit the point of diminishing returns?

This is something I am struggling with now. I think staffing and HR is going to be my achilles heel. Being an introvert doesn’t help because training wears me out. It’s just another example of things they don’t teach you in business school.

Which is why if you ever want to run a business, the best way to learn to do it is to…run a business.


Patti Wilson the career coaching expert says in her Blog:

Its not really a people shortage that is predicted but, rather, a talent shortage. Big difference. Why you ask? Are you asking?
Because, talent is indefinable, subjective. Its really dependent on the whim of a company to decide exactly what kind of “talent” they want to hire and where they must be sourced from. People, on the other hand, may not exactly fit the bill, exactly. A skill may be missing here, an attribute there…it all adds up to available people, ready to work hard, long and diligently…but they just aren’t quite the required “talent”. Maybe they are too old, too expensive, not from the right competitor…is this what it means for a person to be productized?