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Posts Tagged ‘consulting’

[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 »

Your partner is a Capitalist too!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on February 3, 2013


“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 »

The Key To Conquest: Surrender

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on July 23, 2012

Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626)

“Nature cannot be commanded except by being obeyed”- Francis Bacon, Magna Instauratio

The underlying message urges pursuit of learning the laws of nature in order to master her. The same postulation can be extended to our daily lives. Whenever we wish to accomplish or achieve something, the first step should be to immerse oneself into the essence of that object and learn as mush as possible about it. Only then will we succeed in conquering that which eludes us.Here are some examples,

  • To win over an enemy in battle, the strategist delves into the mind of the opponent. To do this, one must condition one’s brain with information that has molded the opponent’s thought process. Only then can the enemy’s move be preempted.
  • To solve a management problem, in-depth analysis into the parameters that drive the process is a must. Without gaining an understanding of the sequence of events that lead to a problem, the solution can never be arrived at.
  • Before designing a marketing campaign, the marketing consultant must literally live the lives of the target audience. Statistical Data that does not involve emotional factors is pretty shallow.
  • Next time you rebuke your child, try to peek into the mind of the little one and evaluate the circumstances that led to the child’s actions.

In short, to conquer or overcome someone or something, become one with that object. The rest will be a cakewalk.

Posted in Management Consulting, Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Retail Bank Growth Strategy 101:Catch Them When They Are Young

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on July 20, 2012

Strategy: Retail banks need to catch prospective customers early. Target individuals that are making the transition from studies to professional life and benefit from the customer loyalty that is inbuilt into the product offering(explained below). Focus Sales efforts towards Corporate Accounts because these accounts translate into Employee accounts that tend to have a longer life. Do not go for customers that adversely affect the deposit per customer to cost per customer ratio.


The Manager of  SBI, a Public Sector Bank asked me to advise him on what he could learn from Private Sector Retail Banks. Why was it that I had my accounts with  HDFC, a Private Sector Bank and not his? And this inspite of the fact that there was no differentiation in the product lines of either bank; internet banking, mobile banking and other services were all part of SBIs offering as well. So why do I not have an account with SBI?

The question was out of the blue and not at all relevant to our preceding conversation. Caught me by surprise! So I thought…the cliched response that came to my mind was aging staff, poor quality service blah blah. But then I realized that SBI had already worked on these issues and addressing them would not add much value to their growth strategy.It was not the reason I did not have an account with SBI.So I though more…Eureka!

I used HDFC as my retail banker because the first company I was employed with used HDFC to process their salary accounts. When I joined that company, my first job after college, I was proud of my first salary and with it proud of my first very own bank account. HDFC had gained a new retail customer through their corporate account with my company. And I was not the only one. Like me, all new employees had there accounts opened in HDFC to ease transfer of salaries.


Customer Loyalty in Retail Banking has increased. While some of this can be attributed to good service quality, a lot of it is due to new features such as Internet Banking, Mobile Banking, Trading Accounts etc. that are bundled in the offering. The barriers to changing one’s account have increased because an account holder who gets used to the interface of Internet and Mobile Banking of one bank is hesitant to move to another bank where he would have to go through another round of initiation with the new bank’s interface. E.g. I am so comfortable with the UI of HDFC Netbanking that I am reluctant to shift to the platform of another bank. I have my customer IDs and passwords memorized and don’t want to change the status quo with a whole new set of numbers and passwords. I love my ATM card and don’t want to deal with a new one with a new PIN.

On further discussion it was evident that SBI was not aggressively targeting Corporate Salary accounts and this is hurting not only the quantity but also quality of its deposits.

Disclaimer: Bank names have been used only for illustration.I do not intend to endorse any.




Posted in Management Consulting | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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