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  • There are three types of people in the world, those who don't know what's happening, those who wonder what's happening and those on the streets that make things happen.

Archive for February, 2013

To think outside the box…

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on February 23, 2013

stepout

…step outside the box.

I have seen several senior executives repeatedly urge their employees to think outside the box. A million minutes each year are spent in meeting rooms to cultivate this thinking in a company and its approach. Sadly, the outcome in most instances is limited to a few momentary flashes of brilliance and then a return to routine.

Most members of leadership teams fail to realize that simply urging their employees to stretch their imagination is just not enough. It is equally important to reveal to them what the ideal state looks like. I cannot expect the manager of a production line in India to meet the expectations of a customer in France unless I have established a channel of communication between the two.

The Innovation Circle at one of the companies I worked with was immensely fruitful. The key to their success was the exposure that the company provided to its employees. Every month, trips were arranged for the line operators. While some of the visits were to other factories in the district, others were fun excursions to neighboring tourist hotspots. The idea was to step outside the factory and expose our senses to something other than the sight and sound of our factory. There was something to be learnt from everything outside. And that learning reflected in the cost reduction and innovation projects that the workers implemented back at work.

The same applies to senior executives. They cannot evolve and innovate until they keep themselves informed about the changes occurring in the business eco-system around them.

No radical change in thought or approach inside is possible without witnessing an equally radical change outside.

To think outside the box, step outside the box.

Posted in Management Consulting | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Immigration

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on February 19, 2013

Its not easy to be an immigrant. While in most cases it is in search of a better life, it does come with a price, Sacrifice. An immigrant sacrifices his cultural and family ties, he sacrifices the innate bond that he shares with his motherland, the land where he is born. Its not easy to swear allegiance to a new nation.

I find it bewildering that historical references are cited to support arguments on either side of the immigration debate. Here is a beautiful piece from the book “History of Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300” by Romila Thapar.

One of the current debates relating to the beginnings of Indian history involves both archaeology and linguistics, and attempts to differentiate between indigenous and alien peoples. But history has shown that communities and their identities are neither permanent nor static. Their composition changes either with the arrival of new people in an area, and the possible new technologies that are introduced, or by historical changes of a more local but far-reaching kind. Some areas are more prone to change, such as borderlands, mountain passes and fertile plains, whereas densely forested areas or deserts may retain their isolation for a longer period until such time as there is a demand on them for resources. To categorize some people as indigenous and others as alien, to argue about the identity of the first inhabitants of the subcontinent, and to try and sort out these categories for the remote past, is to attempt the impossible. It is precisely in the intermixture of peoples and ideas that the genesis of cultures is to be found. Such arguments arise from the concerns of present-day privilege and power, rather than from the reading of history.

The world was never an island, and will never be one.

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , | 8 Comments »

Just Published! FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on February 19, 2013

I have read a lot of books on Strategy Execution and Leadership. But FASTBREAK comes closest to perfection. It is one guide that I as a Business Head can relate with. John doesn’t beat around the bush. He knows exactly what modern businesses need and presents an exhaustive yet simple framework to help senior executives realize their vision. A must read for both leaders and those who aspire to lead.

John R Childress . . . Rethinking

“Publishing a book is like stuffing a note into a bottle and hurling it into the sea. Some bottles drown, some come safe to land, where the notes are read and then possibly cherished, or else misinterpreted, or else understood all too well by those who hate the message. You never know who your readers might be.” ― Margaret Atwood

Fastbreak 2

There is no strategy without execution, and there is no execution without leadership!

Even though several hundred copies have been out to clients and colleagues for the past month, I can finally announce that my newest business publication FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution, is finally available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

I am looking forward to hearing comments from readers and seeing the reviews add up on Amazon.  Just the other day I received this note from a former client:

John:  Thanks so much for sending a copy of…

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Limp Sunday

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on February 17, 2013

cover_final_german

I know I’m happy when I spend my Sunday listening to this

this

and this

and knowing that the German Translation of my essay “You Can Be a Buddha Too: Of Desires and Wants” was read by more than 500 online buyers in January 🙂 You can find it here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Chosen Ones

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on February 16, 2013

chosen

We are all God’s chosen people, its just that God doesn’t choose us all at the same time.

For me, being “chosen” means to be able to connect with the Divine, to be able to be one with the other world. And that connection is something that we are born with, but fades away as we blend into the ways of the material world. The opportunity to reconnect with the Divine beckons us again, but not when we want it to, rather, when the Divine wishes. It is at that moment that we become the “Chosen Ones”. For some people this reconnection may be momentary, while for others it may last for several years.

And more often than not, the connection is reinstated when times of prosperity have passed us by. It is in periods of hopelessness and despair that the human ego is crushed and this heightens our spiritual senses, making way for the divine contact.

So embrace the difficult periods of life with gratitude. Connect with the Divine. You have been Chosen.

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Mixtape

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on February 16, 2013

seven

“…most people, when in prosperity, are so over brimming with wisdom (however inexperienced they maybe), that they take every offer of advice as an insult, whereas in adversity they know not where to run, but beg and pray for counsel from every passer-by.”

Benedict de Spinoza, A Theologica-Political Treatise

While Spinoza traces the root of superstition in fear and despair, I couldn’t help but realize how often the above situation plays itself out in the corporate world. While some foolhardy, egoistic CEOs find it demeaning to consult their team members, those on the other end of the spectrum lose sight of the solution in search of way too many reassurances. A true leader is a good assessor of his own judgement and knows where to seek counsel when he lacks the ability to make the right call himself.

On the topic of similarities in geographically separated cultures, here is another one. In Vedic Astrology, every person’s life assumed to be 120 years) is divided into  9 unequal phases, each phase ruled by a planet. One of these phases is ruled by Ketu and has a duration of 7 years. This phase is characterized by the person being stripped off his or her material comforts and being left with the bare minimum required to survive. A seven year period where the person may struggle financially, the material outflow being more than the inflow. Seven years, the duration of the famine in Egypt, stated in Genesis.

Posted in Management Consulting, Philosophy | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on February 14, 2013

Red Rose

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

[Repost] Management Consulting 101:Have a Problem, Google It!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on February 14, 2013

I used the phrase “Google it!” twice at work today. Each time I was asked information that could so easily be accessed on any online search engine. So here’s a repost of one of my earliest thoughts on this blog:

This advice goes out to everyone out there doing anything, anywhere. If you have a problem, Google* it! Chances are that many on this planet have faced the same or similar problems and have shared the solutions online. It will save you a lot of time you would otherwise spend banging your head against the wall.

And Management Consultants in particular need to follow this approach. Lets face it, given the nature of capitalism, there are only a finite types of problems in the world. And most of those problems have been tackled and details posted somewhere online in the form of a case study. So the approaches to problem solving are limited and out in public domain. The real value addition lies firstly, in identifying the unique parameters that influence the process in which the problem lies, secondly, innovation in the form of tweaked derivative of an existing solution for the problem at hand and finally, implementing the solution in the unique Eco-system that the problem belongs to.

E.g when manufacturing moved to China, the management there faced production issues that were faced by factories in the United States in their infancy. The new problems were not new in nature but new to the Chinese Eco-system. The solutions that were implemented were derived from US factories and tweaked to adapt to the new environment.

There is no shame in incorporating Googling* as your first step of problem solving. It saves a lot of time and lets you use more of your grey cells in the real value addition.

*Googling refers to the act of searching. This could be both online as well as offline.

Posted in Management Consulting | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on February 6, 2013

What China does is wrong. It throws the principles of fair trade out of the window….and for some reason we let it get away with it.

Tibetan Blog Station

Source: Lhakar Diaries

deathbychina1013x1463-709x1024This past week, I saw the film ‘Death by China’. This film is based on the book written by Peter Navarro and Greg Autry. I didn’t know what to expect going into this film, I hadn’t heard anything about the film, but my doubts about this film were instantly soothed when I heard the sweet, smooth voice of Martin Sheen begin narrating film. I remembered that he had also narrated Tibet Cry of the Snowlion, so Death by China automatically gained some credibility with me. Like any other documentary film, the footage consisted of many interviews, and within the first, say, 5 minutes of the film, Lhakpa Tsering of the Free Tibet World Bike Tour was shown being interviewed about his views on China’s economic prowess while holding a sign advocating for Tibetan freedom. Throughout the film, Tibet was referred to numerous times.

While I…

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One small step…

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on February 5, 2013

Aur

I’ve been a shy guy most my life. Till graduation I would not even be able to talk to girls without a stutter. But, for the first and very last time, nine years ago, in a small cafe, I mustered enough courage to walk up to a girl and introduce myself. We talked, went on bike rides, drank, talked, drank and got married.

And in the last six months, two of my best friends have found their soul mates in two of my wife’s friends. Yesterday I was at one of the two weddings. As my friend the groom, and the bride walked down the aisle, sweet memories of that beautiful day nine years back flashed across my mind; the day I had daringly walked up to this beautiful girl and said, “Hi, can I join you for a cup of coffee?”

One small step for me, one giant leap for my friends 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 15 Comments »

Your partner is a Capitalist too!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on February 3, 2013

outsourcing

“If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles… if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

In present day world of business globalization, it is equally important to know your “friends” or “partners”.

The past decade has seen an explosion of cross-cultural joint ventures and partnerships as corporations headed to developing countries in search of cheaper labor and a potential market. One of the many vehicles of entry being used is Contract Manufacturing (CM), a quick and low cost way of entering a new market. Unfortunately, CM doesn’t come without its inherent risk, that of being taken for a ride by the local manufacturing partner.

What many companies fail to recognize is that partners in new markets are Capitalists too and they too are in it to maximize profits. Their incentive to stray off the ethical path is strong, and many local companies fail to resist the temptation. In corruption ridden developing nations, statutory compliance is merely a piece of paper signed by a bribed authority. It is impossible to detect by carrying out a day long audit. Entrepreneurs have mastered the art of passing every audit under the sky. Another art that local businessmen have become proficient in is “cover up”. Manufacturing units that in routine business look like hell, get turned into 5 star facilities when there is a client visit. Having a third party conduct due diligence is just not enough. You have to know your partner yourself, not from second hand information.

So if you are a company that is looking to expand operations into a developing country, know your local partner. And the best way to know your partner is to be close to him. While I am in favor of reducing capital costs by sharing machinery and facility with a local partner, I firmly believe that leadership and management should not be outsourced. Have your own hands and feet on the ground. Recruit your own local team that works closely with the local partner. Run your partnership like a marriage and not a long distance relationship.

You can occupy new territory with leased weapons, but you cannot hold it with leased soldiers.

Posted in Management Consulting | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

 
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