Thursday, September 27, 2007

The World Is Flat

Ever since Christopher Columbus’s very famous westward journey busted the notion regarding “World being flat”, very few dared to question its authenticity. But seems like a new breed of proponents of “Flat World” have arrived and Thomas L. Friedman is leading them.

In the book “The World Is Flat”, Friedman’s use of the metaphor of flat world to describe the next phase of globalization is ingenious. His realization started in Banglore after hearing to Nandan Nilekani, who explained him how the economic playing field is being leveled. It is now possible for more people then ever to collaborate and compete in real time with more other people on more different kind of work from more different corners of the world and on a more equal footing than at any previous time in the history of the world – using computers, email, fiber optics, networks, teleconferencing, and dynamic new software.

The Friedman way of writing is very engaging. He takes you with him on travel to all corners of the world, meet his family & friends and conduct interviews with him. The entire book is presented as a memoir with occasional introspection. In his book, Friedman cited 10 forces that really helped in flattening the world. He called them 10 flatteners.

  1. 11/9/89: The New Age of Creativity: When the Walls Came Down (Berlin wall) and the Windows Went Up (MS Windows).
  2. 8/9/95: The New Age of Connectivity: When the Web Went Around and Netscape Went Public.
  3. Work Flow Software
  4. Uploading
  5. Outsourcing
  6. Off-Shoring
  7. Supply-Chaining
  8. In-Sourcing
  9. In-Forming
  10. The Steroids

Not surprisingly, Friedman stresses the crucial role technological forces particularly dot-com bubble played in flattening the world. During fiber-optic bubble, telecommunication companies like baby bells and AT&T were sitting on hefty cash reserves – given to them by naïve investors. Internet boom led everyone believe that the demand for bandwidth to carry internet traffic would double every there month - indefinitely. Hence, they used millions of dollars ($1 trillion) to pursue an incredibly ambitious plan of “wiring the world” through laying fiber-optic cables on land and under the sea, connecting third world countries to the advanced industrial nations. Unfortunately, the telecom companies were not paying close attention to the developing mismatch between demand and supply. When the internet bubble burst, disaster for telecom companies turned out to be a great boon for the consumers and the third world countries like India. The cost of phone calls, internet connections, and data transmission declined dramatically and for Indians, who wanted to get online from Banglore for business, could do so. The next development was stock market crash following dot-com bust, this made companies looking for ways to cut cost and reduce spending – resulting in outsourcing. Companies discovered that Indian Engineers can handle most of the technical jobs they needed done, at a fraction of the cost (Thanks to fiber-optics cable which enabled working from offshore).

Friedman’s honest reaction to this new world is quiet evident from his words “at the gate observing this river of educated young people flowing in and out... They all looked as if they had scored 1600 on their SAT's…. These Indian techies were doing what was their comparative advantage and then turning around and using their income to buy all the products from America that are our comparative advantage. Both our countries would benefit. . . . But my eye kept . . . telling me something else: 'Oh, my God, there are just so many of them and they all look so serious, so eager for work. And they just keep coming, wave after wave. How in the world can it possibly be good for my daughters and millions of other young Americans that these Indians can do the same jobs as they can for a fraction of the wages?”

Friedman refrained from taking an anti or a pro globalization stance; rather he concluded that the biggest challenge for America is whether it is prepared for this flat world. He precisely explained the factors and the possible implications of the globalization. A must read for those who want to gain an insiders view into the globalization.

Reviewed By:--

Vishal Chourasiya

Class of 2009

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chak De - “Jo nahin ho sakta hai, wahi to karna hai...” - A Case Study

Chak De India is the story of a coach's fight of making his team, Team India by overcoming their diverse backgrounds, by learning to use everything that life hurls on them as a secret weapon. It's a story about honesty, sincerity and integrity. A story to remind the nation of its National Sport.

"...The recipe for such a success was most wonderfully conveyed by Shah Rukh Khan and those wonderful women hockey players in the movie. Let me recount them here. We have to identify as Indians first and rise above our affiliations with our states, religions and castes. We must accept meritocracy and enthusiastically play the role we are best suited to."

"We must embrace discipline to strictly follow every step required for success. We have to put the interest of our nation ahead of our personal interests, subordinating our egos and biases. Finally, we have to put in tremendous hard work and make shortterm sacrifices for long-term glory."

"I have immense faith and optimism in the youth of this country. But, will we get our leaders to set examples for hundreds of millions of Indian youth? I wish more and more of our leaders see Chak De and learn these precious lessons."

(This was an extract from an article written by chairman and chief mentor of Infosys Technologies in ET.)

Besides his observations, I would also like to add some more take away points from the movie.

· DIVERSITY - The movie is a reminder to all of us about the diversity of our country. Many States, Many Languages, Many Cultures, One Nation…

· PARENTS CARE - Komal and Balbir come to Delhi with their parent(s). More so, Komal even has laddoos in a tiffin!

· TEAM BUILDING - Team building process in the film is very significant. Sixteen players from different parts of the country with different backgrounds and diversity meet for the first time for a common cause and the process.

· GUESTS AT ONE’S OWN HOME - A comment from the players from North-East India signals that we, who have the privilege of being situated in the central part of the country, treat them as 'guests' in their own country.

· PUNCTUALITY - Preeti Sabharwal, who comes late for the training, is not allowed to be a part of the team despite her stressing the fact that she was the captain of Chandigarh team. SRK admits her only after she completes her round in the field in seven minutes.

· DISCIPLINE - Players who do not stick to the rules of the game are made to sit on the bench. SRK does not allow them to play the game till they apologize.

· WOMAN EMPOWERMENT - Preeti does not yield to her fiancé’s (Indian Cricket Team’s Vice Captain, Abhimanyu Singh) wish of leaving hockey. He repeatedly keeps mocking hockey as a game.

· UNITED WE STAND - When some romeos tease two of the girls at McDonalds, the whole team comes together to fight them. SRK deliberately does not interfere in the fight as he wants the team to be cohesive.

· TEAM VALUE - One of the points that appealed to me the most was when SRK says that the TEAM is FIRST, Team MEMBERS NEXT and if after that something remains, that is for an INDIVIDUAL – very important for getting the maximum out of the team (or members of the team).

· TEMPERAMENT - The girl from (Balbir Kaur) Punjab often lost her temper. She was ousted from a match because of bickering with the referee. Towards the end of the movie, she learns to keep calm.

· TIT FOR TAT - The team from Argentina was “famous” for injuring other teams’ players. When SRK observes that the referee is not penalising them, he asks the Indian team to retaliate so that Argentina may not block their way again. This tit-for-tat thing is nicely carried out by Indian girls.

· INDIAN CULTURE - When Indian players reach the finals, team India is dressed in saris despite some of them being uncomfortable in that. We still take pride in our culture.

· CRICKETOMANIA - SRK says that people would do anything for cricket but not for hockey. It’s true considering the real situation.

· SPONSORSHIP - Politics influences sponsorships. This was clear when the committee refuses to give sponsorship for the women team for going to Australia for world cup.

· LET GO YOUR EGO - When you need the best, by pass all your rules, compromise your ego. This is evident when SRK goes and requests Bindia Naik to play when India has to confront Korea. She was the need of the time.

These are some of the lessons which I could recall (watched it quite sometime back).
And here are some facts-

Fact 1: Chak De has gone to the Oscar Library (Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences) and has been taken up as a case study in a few business schools….

Fact 2: India retained the Asia Cup, thrashing Korea 7-2 in the final of the seventh edition of the tournament at the packed Mayor Radhakrishnan stadium in Chennai. It won all the matches in Asia Cup this year!!!

Rahul Maheshwari
(MBA Batch of 2008)

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Open your eyes
Avoid all disguise.
To win a game,
And for the fame,
Be on the ground,
Never push others around.
Make fun of your face
You better run your own race.

Open the doors
Look for the floors.
Don’t think three or four
Many more are in the tour.
Go with sympathy and grace,
Take all along,
And run your own race.

Push your limits,
Save your valve,
Problems are part but
There is a huge market to solve.
Don’t let your liabilities disgrace
You better run your own race.

Fundamental attribution error,
Can show you the terror,
If you pull the legs,
Change your perception rather,
All are as good as your grandfather.
It is more than a menace,
You better run your own race.

All nights we work like hell,
Not caring about the alarming bell,
Don’t ask and don’t tell,
Sell it, whatever you can sell,
Have some beer,
Ride on the deer,
Play with the monkey,
You are not donkey,
Broaden your horizon,
Yell like “Tarzan”,
Be you and seek your space,
You better run your own race.

Feel good to be a member,
Two years you always remember,
You won’t find this family again,
Be happy for whatever you retain.
Despite the teams and groups,
MBA is the only place,
Where you better run your own race.

Madhur Yadav

Friday, September 7, 2007

My Hero

We want to tell you something.
Kotler and Rubbins are good
but you told us how good is good
OB, I thought we knew since childhood
but it Organized and Behaved our senses.

Paradoxically speaking--"Who" is an answer at DoMS

Many lives,different and questioning,
we got frustrated by our own queries,but you didn't.
Like a candle you burnt and lighted our life.
Our inquiries so stupid
Phones ringing,but you like a rock
steadied and swerved our ships
and knew that we will learn and depart.

As our success brings joy to your soul
and Providence has assigned you the revered role
I don't know the dharma and karma, but bow to you
Praise you sir with the bottom of our heart
and paradoxically our debt has lowered our bottom.

------- From the pen of Abhishek Shankar

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

"Good to Great" To "Built to Last"

“Good is the enemy of great”, is what the first line of the book states. The book analyses 15 “Good to great companies” which had phenomenal results, some due to shrewd strategies, some due to innovative products and some due to changing consumer needs. There is another set of 15 companies called “comparison companies” which are compared with the “good to great companies” on several parameters.

The beauty lies in the way the author compares the two sets of companies based on different parameters like the average tenure of CEO, the number of mergers and acquisitions done by the company, the kind of industries they were in and the growth rate offered by the industry. Most of the readers might try to search for a common thread between those 15 companies to know what led to the greatness of those firms. But instead of following that route, I feel what Jim Collins have tried to convey is, there are different routes to achieve greatness and a company need not imitate other firms in pursuit of greatness.

The core ideology of the book lies in the flywheel concept illustrated below. The key points that the author discusses are: -
- Level 5 leadership
- First Who Then What
- Confront the brutal facts
- Hedgehog concept
- Culture of discipline
- Technology accelerates

The classic example of Level 5 leadership is of the legendary CEO of Gillette, Colman Mocklar who formulated great strategies for the company and saved it from the corporate raiders like Revlon. The takeover bid initiated by Ronald Perelman, CEO of Revlon itself can become a classic case study for the MBA coursework.

The author also places great emphasis on the right people employed by the company at the right position during the critical juncture of the company’s evolution. He reiterates

the point that it’s not just the people but the right people who make the critical difference to the company.

The evolution of the company happens sequentially as shown in the figure above but the quantum leap for the company comes only after the basics are in place. The analogy of Winston Churchill setting up the statistical department for the British Government during the Second World War fits beautifully for the firms as well. These analogies used by the author makes the concepts self-explanatory.

The most important concept that deserves special mention is the “Hedgehog Concept”. The hedgehog is a genetic mix-up between a porcupine and a small armadillo which can take any of the two shapes and always manages to beat the fox by taking one of the forms. The hedgehog concept emphasizes the important concept and ignores the mundane ones. Freud and the unconscious, Darwin and natural selection, Marx and class struggle, Einstein and relativity, Adam Smith and division of labor are all hedgehogs.

Transition from good to great requires a clear and deep understanding of the three intersecting circles translated into a simple, crystalline concept (the hedgehog concept). The figure below illustrates the three circles of the hedgehog concept.

The book “Good to Great” was published after “Built to Last”, but when you complete reading both the books, you realize that “Built to Last” actually fits to become a sequel of “Good to Great”. Built to last, talks about how companies achieve iconic status after achieving the greatness. There are several examples of those iconic companies (3M, Walt Disney, HP, Sony etc) without which it is difficult to imagine specially an American society. They have altered the way people live, think and feel. How many companies can claim that one out of every 8 American employees have worked in that company? How many companies can assert that they have brought happiness to the lives of maximum number of people in the world? How many companies can master the concept “Small is beautiful”?

And that’s exactly what comprise the spirit of the iconic corporations of all times. They moved beyond the sole motive of profit and altered the lives across generations.

To understand these changes and impact, try reading both the books. Definitely “MUST MUST READ” for all lovers of business……….!!!!

Rajeev Jain
(Batch of 2008)

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