Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Life Philosophies at Work

For the longest time ever, I handled myself at work rather abominably. I relied totally on the experience & guidance of the organisation to mould my approach to work, and towards people at work. I was taught to believe that if I made work my everything, I would prosper like no man's business! I did exactly that. Until I realized that something was amiss.

It's only recently that I have realized that work isn't everything. There is something else called Life. There is a beautiful world outside of work calling, and I do not intend to ignore that call anymore!

Recent cogitation on life and it's deeper mysteries has brought on some kind of a mild spiritual awakening. I am suddenly aware of the true meaning of what the Quran & the Gita say about how one should conduct oneself.

The Quran likens criticism to "eating the flesh of one's brother". So how does one manage conflict in the organisation? How does one provide feedback?
I'm sure some philosophy somewhere asks us not to judge our fellow man. How then does one conduct appraisals? How does one fit employees into the bell-curve?

The Gita says that your right is to your labour alone, not to the fruit of that labour. The next time my boss asks me why the desired outcome wasn't achieved, I am going to quote this to him. And I would like to watch his/her expression change.

So what does this tell us? Does it mean that we must conduct ourselves at work the way we would conduct ourselves in life? Or does it mean that there is a marked difference between what we must do at work & what we must do in Life? I believe that the latter is the pragmatic approach. This is what I believe the essence of "work-Life balance" to be. And this is where I differ radically from Shyam Vishwanathan (a man I admire immensely on all other counts).

Airtel Indictment!!!

This should have ideally gone up here as it has to do with the world of commerce & business (just barely touching upon the BPO bit though), but anyway, here it is now...

Link from a post that I put up on the Mutiny. Mutiny uses Wordpress, which has some amazing features, but it's pro-tech-savvy approach sometimes makes the most simple tasks like linking to a photo extremely difficult. So here's the original photo in a more viewable format. Enjoy!

Spread the good word!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

On Business Ethics (& more on the Nano)

A while back this blog was buzzing with the thrill around the Nano.

I am (as is my wont) trying to present another view.

One thing to understand about business is that there are two approaches to it. One is the business house that insists on providing a high quality product to it's customers (example, Apple Inc.?). Another is the kind of business house that determines what the customer is willing to pay for a product and designs a product around that price range.
Much as I respect the Tatas, it is for this second reason that I don't accord the same respect to all their products.

I drive a Tata car. It's a very nice car in many respects, but it's nowhere near international standards. The seatbelt malfunctions, so does the horn, there's very little finesse in it's finish. (This is almost like writing a movie review... Somebody else does the hard work, and we get to sit & criticize it!)
There really shouldn't be a reason to crib. The Tatas made an excellent VFM product! For X price, they've provided some great features! Except that there a gadzillion features missing as well! In trying to make an affordable vehicle, the Tatas cut cost on almost every component: the interiors, the door hinges, the wiper jets (need replacing every 6 months!), the tyre size!!! The actual tyre is one size smaller than the ideal size (as informed by a gentleman in the tyre industry for over 25 years). This apparently saves them Rs. 500/- per tyre. That's Rs. 2500/- per vehicle. For a car that's sold 1 Lakh units, that amounts to a saving of Rs. 25,00,00,000/-! That also amounts to me driving on less that perfect tyres!

It is this aspect of business that I find disappointing. It is this disregard for a good quality product (or even safety features!) as opposed to an affordable product that I find disconcerting. The Tatas aren't the only ones to blame, the consumer who agrees to buy such products is equally to blame; but one should expect more product responsibility from a corporate, the same we way we expect corporate social responsibility.

So think again about the Nano. Even if you cast aside the potential traffic nightmares, the environmental nightmares, do think about what safety features the 1 Lakh car will offer us. Or do safety features not matter in "the people's car"?

Inviting inputs from you gentle readers and future industry stalwarts on this aspect of business.