Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tharoor doesn't Budget his words while driving a Toyota, but CAT Topper was a real Holi!

I have five distinct themes to write on, in this posting. And the best way I could remember them was through the sentence that's the title! The themes I will write on are
a) Shashi Tharoor and his controversies
b) The Union Budget 2010
c) The Toyota fall-from-grace and learnings
d) CAT Topper (100 percentiler) from PT education, and
e) Holi 2010

Although each one of these deserves a full-fledged posting of their own, still!

a) Shashi Tharoor and his controversies
It is amazing to notice the speed with which this gentleman kicks up dust that ought to remain settled. He is handling one of the most sensitive portfolios in Indian government, and the terrific use of social networking site Twitter to share his hour-by-hour life is quite a revealing act. As a minister who handles such a key portfolio, either he does not have a lot of confidential work to do, or he is quite cool about the ways he should be adopting. To be sure, Tharoor is the first ever Indian politician (of this caliber and level) to use a public service like Twitter. This was also acknowledged in a high-profile programme hosted by a leading TV channel where the founder of Twitter Mr Biz Stone (speaking through video conferencing) thanked Mr Tharoor for popularising Twitter in India. So given the fact that this is the nascent stage, the rules for using such a medium aren't set yet. But the Indian political sensibilities demand that

  • he does not share too much stuff with the common man (too much to handle for many)
  • he remain politically correct always, and
  • in light of the continuous controversies he is raking up, either he sticks to his stand and does not apologise (which will show his determination and correctness) or he should quit his controversial ways.
Of course, things change with time. And people like Mr Tharoor can be the catalysts for such change. But right now it seems that the change is coming too fast, too dangerously! Honestly, post the Pune-blasts, I expected Mr Tharoor to tweet something solid and sensible, but it remained inane. So do we assume that public servants and public personalities will find their limits of expression fairly quickly in this much-touted medium?

Talking of Biz Stone, I was amazed at his sure-footedness when he replied to the query by Mr Anand Mahindra about buying shares in Twitter, by replying that "Well you are on the list whenever we go public, if we ever!" I knew that they had refused a mouth-watering offer from Facebook, but their sheer confidence is stunning. History is littered with unfortunate examples of seemingly unstoppable rising stars that just fizzled out before the owners could cash the cows. Let's hope this one doesn't.

No matter what happens. Biz Stone sure must have been delighted by that evening's massive attention.

b) The Union Budget 2010

It was quite a presentation! Anybody who needed a lesson in communicating under difficult situations must watch the recording of this show.

The affable, amazingly sagacious, and clever Finance Minister handled the budget in the manner his decades long experience told him he should - read fast, don't pause too much, bury the controversial stuff deep inside arcane economic jargon, and don't crack too many jokes (that start to involve others, and wake them from their slumber). I was reading the body language of the MPs when the FM was reading his text. For the entire first hour, there was hardly any reaction. In fact, many of them were dozing, yawning, looking cluelessly at their neighbours who were equally clueless, or plain simple staring in the promising nothingness that's empty space. Surely the FM knew that very few will try to actually follow his speech and the intricacies, and still fewer will understand anything. So he raced past the several potential hurdles. On some instances, I suspect, even Madam Speaker took a nap (at least that's what I saw!). And then came the bombshell - the petro-hike. The FM even finished that part easily, and raced to the next page. But suddenly, some MPs realised that they had reached the point they were waiting for. The FM dished out his well-prepared statement at least 8 times on that occasion - "You can't stop me from presenting the Budget. It is a constitutional requirement. You can debate later, but you can't stop me."

And the rest is, well, too boring to write home about.

c) The Toyota fall-from-grace and learnings
Almost every Car-manufacturer in the world has tried to learn from the Toyota way of doing things. Tomes have been written on the efficacy and efficiency of the Toyota system of manufacturing. Scores of management gurus have dissected the Toyota philosophy. Eulogies, encomiums and plaudits have flown in ample measure for decades, raising Toyota to the level of almost a God of Modern Manufacturing. As a graduate from the IIT Delhi who studied manufacturing engineering, I could truly appreciate the marvel that was the Toyota way.
So it came as a total shocker when a few months ago, news started appearing that maybe, the God wasn't in good shape. And then came the President of the company, who accepted in broad daylight (just a few weeks ago) that Toyota was in a state of decline. That was truly shocking. And then all hell broke loose. In the most premium market for the car-maker, the US, the media went to town with news of hundreds of accidents (and scores of deaths) on the American highways in past few years due to inherent problems with Toyota cars.

It so emerged that Toyota had manufactured cars that has this unusual problem - 'unintended acceleration'. This was either due to a mechanical failure of a rod in the system, or the improperly fitting floor-mats. For years customers had been reporting to Toyota, but the revered car-maker just did not take the complaints seriously. The problems grew so dramatically that the entire machinery threatened to topple over.

It was then that the President stepped in, publicly accepting that they had messed up big time by not listening to their customers for several years, and by not taking the complaints as seriously as they should have. In the following days, lacs of Toyota vehicles had to be pulled off the roads for repairs ('company recalls'), and complying with the US norms, several best-selling models had to be pulled off the showrooms (you can't sell any model that has a proven potential problem).

In a brilliantly written 1 page article, the recent issue of The Economist analysed the reasons for the Toyota debacle. It is worth reading; I recommend it strongly.

Toyota got it wrong, big time. It's not just sad, it's criminal. The simple lessons we learn are
  • Never take your customer for granted. She is never wrong. Listen to her.
  • Do not assume that high-tech gadgetry can be a substitute for plain simple feedback.
  • Do not let your sales pitch exceed your manufacturing capabilities.
  • Do not compromise with the fundamental values that have made you what you are, in a race to beat others, or a blind race for higher numbers.
  • Never ever lose the most precious thing a brand can possess - Mysteriously beautiful high-quality.
Toyoto will surely rise from the debacle. But the mystery will be lost forever.

d) CAT Topper (100 percentiler) from PT educationIt was in 2004 that we got the first set of Toppers in the prestigious IIM-CAT. It was the first year that score-cards were issued to students. Toppers were students who scored a clear 100 percentile in the written test.

This represented a huge victory of our entire process of teaching and mentoring. Ever since then, each year, without fail, PT education has been producing Toppers in the IIM-CAT without fail. It's been six years now, and we have not failed once!

And so it was this year! The moment that I most wait for the whole year - arrived on Sunday afternoon, when my colleague (the PT Centre Director Mr Ram) from Nagpur called me and ecstatically informed me - "Sandeep sir, we have the All India CAT Topper with 100 percentile score - Pushpak Pusegaonkar!"
Wonderful! Proven once again. For the sixth year in a row, we did it again. Lagataat chhathey saal, kar ke dikha diya. In all, we have had 14 CAT Toppers so far. That's a big number. The reasons that I think we have been so successful are
  • very strong focus on systems and processes, across the network
  • dedicated team of Centre Directors (Franchisees) who are personally involved into teaching and mentoring
  • a never-say-die attitude that helps us stay and flourish in diverse markets despite stiff competition from 4/5 players in each one of them
  • conviction, and the "Kar ke dikhayenge" spirit!
Consistency is a big plus in any venture. I am personally glad I could witness the creation of 14 CAT Toppers from PT education in 6 years. Wonderful work, team!

e) Holi 2010
Nothing can capture the spirit of gay abandon that the Indian festival of Holi can! I love the day so much, that everytime I miss playing, there is a sense of loss! This year was very special. We planned out the day well in advance. Actually, my daughter - who is old-enough to make demands that cannot anymore be wished away by her Dad - told me in no uncertain terms some days before Holi that we were to enjoy it to the fullest. "Your wish is our comman, madam!" is the reigning dictum in my home when it comes to her.

We started the day by visiting my brother's place - and what a riot it was. At least 8 kids got together from the neighbourhood and in no time, all hell was let loose on us (and everyone else too). My mother who is recuperating from a minor accident, enjoyed the show and even participated in it! Colours flew freely as everyone took their annual revenge on each other in ample measure. Our faces turned red, blue and green and the experienced hands of the mellowed Holi-enthusiasts left their indelible impressions on various organs of our bodies.

We rushed back to my home soon thereafter, as I was expecting my colleagues and students to come over for the second round of colour-riot! And what a show it was. We all played like mad, enjoying every moment of togetherness, joy and unbridled fun. And yes, we enjoyed the ample supply of snacks too (I suspect many had come only for that!).

Everytime I think of Indian festivals, I wonder at the sheer consistency with which they have stayed and refused to perish into oblivion. Each season brings with it a new festival, to symbolise the joy that's life in its umpteen colours.

I looked around with my mind, and found nothing
Till I saw my friends who were celebrating with all their heart
The rain, the harvest, the homecoming
Oh, these wonderful moments of togetherness, solidarity and growth
The survivors of eons, the festivals of India!


Unknown said...

Interesting post and more than that a wonderful Title :)

Just FYI Twitter is co-founded by Evan Williams, the man behind successful ventures like Blogger (which was later acquired by Google) and then Odeo. Google was almost about to buy Twitter but EW walked away from the deal.

Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google said about Evan Williams its incredible how a person can succeed twice or thrice and mentioned that it has reaffirmed what a difference an entrepreneur can make :)

Aaah how I want these kind of stories to come from India

smthin differnt said...

Curtain up, show starts
Different hues of colour appear

Puppet were all over
Some dance on the tune and some.....

Some strings break and fall
Some are as rigid as stone

Some have natural and some artifical traits
Some have charm and some have poked face

Some are creator,some are destroyer
Some uses and other get used

Some search love all around
Some have love inside them

Some have world with happiness
Some under the world with regret

Some have path to follow
Some have dream to follow

Some travel in the wood
some travel in the sun, disappear in the dark...

sir i knw dis is lil bit out of context bt m jst want 2 say v r here 2 njoy life n gv happiness sooo.....

Jitendra Nainani said...

Hello sir,
This was the most interesting Blog. you had covered almost all the current affairs in just 1879 words (As per MsWord). It really updated my Knowledge Database.

The way you had presented the Five different themes is a perfect example of " How should we relate things & connect dots? "

Jitenra Nainani

Unknown said...

hello sir,
Am Chayanika Ghosh. PT student.
I regularly follow your blog. They are really great , with lots of encouragements , deluge of knowledge.
"I wish I get to read everyday your new post. "
Its really great to have a mentor like you .

Hoping my wish can manifest ..

Unknown said...

hello sir,
Am Chayanika Ghosh. PT student.
I regularly follow your blog. They are really great , with lots of encouragements , deluge of knowledge.
"I wish I get to read everyday your new post. "
Its really great to have a mentor like you .

Hoping my wish can manifest ..

View Point: Nivsarkar, Himanshu said...

Whether we talk about face book, twitter or other sites to me these sites where prople express themselves, its human nature to express one self on every issue they face or see in their life. The opinion and expressions of each individual is different I have seen over the years due to poor quality of expression in the traditional media space people want to express them selves.
The guise of social networking is nice to have as its keeps these sites away from the governments view. Its a basic human nature says he needs to be heard, seen and felt what better way than these sites.

What Tharoor or any one else does on these sites is express his/her views posts links which he/she likes, spreads word which he/she likes to be spread.

When Tharoor uses these sites at times people find it objectioneable as he has a role/job in the government. To me everyone who uses these sites creates the same issue for some( friends's friends) To me these sites and comments are a reflection of what the person/company/group is thinking. The real issue of social networking is almost not present.

As regards Toyota issue is concerned I have two different opinion, I agree its a fall from grace for Toyota from its own standard( they have kept a very high standard for themseleves)The quality they have for last 50 years is unquestioneable they have redefined quality for all car manufacturer's globally.

Did they handled the situation well or did they took there customer for granted, these are issues which are open and debateable as they reflect perception on what you think.

A Toyota either it was the Qualis in India or Corolla globally defined the life expantancy for cars globally( life expantancy which comes from quality) If you see US cars, European cars, Koreans they have a life of 100,000to 150,000 miles Toyota and to there credit Honda have cars which works even at 200,000 to 300,000 miles. When a customer buys car on credit if than financing deal has to make any sense financially for customer he/she needs to run the car for atleast 8-9 years, and if you run car for 3000 to 5000 miles a year only car which make financial strength are Toyota and Honda.

A lot we hear and see in media is a perception of people nation's during the worst times for ordinary people and mighty nations we need to view these with lenses which allpws us to look at reality.

Cheers for now.

DIVYESH said...

Hello sir,
It has been really an amazing journey of vocabs and knowledge so far from your blog posts.
This activity had really added so many values and knowledge which are invaluable.
Thank you sir from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you very much.

yogesh singh the biggest dreamer said...

it is a great pleasure to being reading my role model in net.
i am also a iim-cat aspirant
but could not clear this time, though i am happy that another topper is from pt. congratulation sir and pt family

Test said...

Thanks a lot everyone for your wonderful comments and thoughts. Your affection, interest and continued inputs makes my writing the blogs meaningful! Keep commenting

Do read the latest post on Nandan Nilekani and his UIDAI dream.

Surendra said...

Good Morning Sir,
I really enjoyed alot to read your blog. The toyota case study is also very useful.
After reading your Holi celebration I wish to play Holi with you sir.
Proton Surendra Pratap Mourya

Anonymous said...

Good history. I am also interested to work in Twitter. Now a day, Twitter is very much famous among people because Twitter is very much helpful for business. It is beneficial.