Monthly Archives: November 2004

What they don’t teach you….


After Gautam Sinha (94PMIR), and E Abraham (78PMIR), this one is from Ronald Sequeira – VP & Head of Human Resources, Tata Power – of 84PMIR batch from Business Standard (Nov 23, 2004):

If you ever want to see several happy people in one place, visit any leading
B-school campus just after the placement season is over. What a sybaritic
feeling. A business school stamp behind your name and a dream job ahead of you.
The B-school grad has learnt all that is there to learn. Could it get any

From the XLRI alumni Blog


Branding, Social software and The Long Tail

what am I talking about. Well I picked this up from Robert Scoble’s blog. Scoble discusses a conversation he’s had with Young & Rubicom’s David Thorpe. As Scoble says:

I shared with him that “the long tail” is where the next few big companies will come from. In fact, Microsoft and Apple and Google all came from the long tail. Remember 1976? Only a handful of people were into personal computers. A few small user’s groups. A few hobby magazines.
That’s a lot like where podcasting is today, no? Or even blogging. About 10 million blogs exist right now, right?
So, if you wanna figure out what is coming in the future, you must build relationships with the long tail. You must figure out ways to see things happening in the long tail before anyone else.
Finally, those who pay attention to the long tail will build strong brands, profitable
companies, and strong organizations.
Latest success story to come out of the long tail? Google.
Think about it, Google didn’t pay attention to the 80% of the market. They paid attention to the weirdos at the end of the tail. The folks who really used search a LOT.

Not really an original idea right? We all have heard variations of these thoughts, the creative edge is where new ideas come from, etc etc.

But what is different is what Scoble goes on to say about Blogging and branding and conversations , that really made me sit up. Just an “evil geek” he isn’t 🙂

I told David that blogs are only the tip of the iceberg. Blogs are only the
part of the word-of-mouth networks that we can see. So, for every blog that
talks about something, there are probably 100,000 conversations that we can’t
see. Blogs just give us a fuzzy picture of what really is being discussed
person-to-person in IM, email, on the phone, or over turkey dinner tomorrow at
They don’t understand bloggers who celebrate audiences of hundreds of
people. They don’t understand Google, who built a search engine for the
hard-core-searcher (they are still trying to react to Google’s vision six years
They don’t grok wikis. After all, only the geeks are using wikis
today, right? (You and I know they are wrong, but selling the long tail is

Imagine that. A tech company saying that they don’t grok wikis! Weird!
So, remember that, you marketer who thinks for the long-term. Watch and listen to the long tail. Next decade’s biggest new idea could come from there. Leave next quarter and next months sales figures to the branding and sales guy. You do R&D and listen to the innovators and experimenters.

Anyone know if I can get a “I’m a long tailer” sticker from somewhere?

hanlon’s razor


A corollary of Finagle’s Law, similar to Occam’s Razor, that reads

“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

Madhur and Upasana getting married !

Two XLers in Bangalore (batch of 2002) are getting married in Delhi tomorrow.

You can wish Upasana and Madhur Upadhyay by calling on 9886724203, 011-26526782 or mailing at madhurupadhyay

The Reliance ownership tussle

Sometimes, I think that the Indian business climate hasn’t really improved from the days before liberalisation.

Imagine, an entrepreneur creates India’s biggest private organization from rags to riches with nothing apart from street smart savvy and the ability to raise money for mega projects. Dhirubhai Ambani becomes the icon for the primary investor in India and vitalises the Bombay Stock Exchange. Reliance starts off in the textile industry, integrating backwards into Polymers, then Petrochemicals. It discovers its strength as the ability to project manage huge projects and the ability to raise money cheap. It even sought to takeover construction company L&T to further reduce time and cost of its projects. Then it moved into areas like Oil & gas and Telecom bringing it’s same strengths to reduce cost and think big. Dhirubhai passes away and the mantle falls on his two sons.

Mukesh, the chosen heir, hardworking, organization man.
Anil, the younger son, flamboyant, glamourous, the external communicator and the financial brain.

Reliance’s moves into new economy areas like Broadband, Telecom etc areMukesh’s pet projects. Anil moves into the background making media appearances.

And last week, when a reporter asked Mukesh on percieved differences between the brothers, Mukesh said “There are ownership issues, but they are in the private realm”


Private realm?

With a comment like that did Mukesh really believe that it could remain private? Or was he pushing the envelope ? We will never know. What followed was a classic case of what not to do in crisis management.

The markets reacted with the Reliance Industries shares nosediving.
It was public news that Dhirubhai had not left any will. So the laws of the Hindu Undivided Family take over, and the matriarch Kokila Ben called for a family meeting of the two brothers and their two sisters to sort out the tangle.

After that Mukesh sent off an e-mail to all the employees saying in effect “I’m the boss”

As of now Anil Ambani has not made a public statement , but apparently the brothers are consulting their lawyers.

Looking at this as a student of Organizational Behavior this seems like a classic case of the first revolution from Griener’s model. An organization that was largely entrepreneur driven and where the ownership and management control were focussed into the family (who were often ranked as THE most powerful people in India) had to unravel sooner or later. What took people by surprise is the timing.

Where is the group headed now? Mukesh might have the money, but Anil has more powerful friends (like Amitabh Bachchan, Amar Singh) and he is a Rajya Sabha politician also. I personally do not think this will go to the courts. Both the brothers stand to lose a lot of wealth as values will erode soon in such a case. Anil, being the more canny strategist would probably ensure a settlement like (as a Biz journalist pointed on TV yesterday) “The Line of Control” !