Monday, December 19, 2011

Samanvay day one Lecture: Mr.Prasad Narasimhan

‘There is no adequate defence, except stupidity, against the impact of a new idea.’
-the quote from the Nobel laureate physicist Percy W. Bridgman resounded with the session’s essence. It was so simple but so powerful! Everybody seemed ruminating on the message it conveyed. The session had just got over. It was 9th of September, the first day of Samanvay. The honourable guest, Mr. Prasad Narasimhan had just finished his lecture.
1 hour earlier…
The media centre hall was chock-a-bloc with people looking forward to listen to Mr.Prasad Narasimhan speak.
An alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad, He began his career with ITC India Pvt. Ltd. Post his stint at ITC, he was Unilever's leading global resource on War Gaming and had in addition worked & directed global brand projects in over 20 countries. Afterwards, he was the Vice-President, Marketing for TVS India Pvt. Ltd. where he was responsible for new product development and strategy, apart from leading Marketing. There he successfully conceived the design and launched TVS Star, Apache and Flame. He was also responsible for introducing a path-breaking concept of 99 colours for scooty bike for the first time in India. Next he joined virgin mobile India as the CMO. He was named one of India's top 10 CMOs and the best Telecom CMO. His work has won top awards across creative platforms including Cannes, EFFIEs, Spikes Asia, Goa Fest and Yahoo Big Chair.
He joined the Brandgym as Managing Partner, Asia in August 2010 and lives in Bangalore.
The lecture started.
Mr Narasimhan stressed on the point that in a creative economy, ideas had to be the currency. He told that personal branding was needed to make one’s mark and to do something different. And how to do something different was the most enriching and engrossing discussion afterwards. It just flowed effortlessly with the guidelines for getting ideas that he mentioned;
He spoke about enjoying work while objecting to conformity and the mindset to find one right answer for each problem. He encouraged seeing like a child and asking questions, to break rules, to be free. Because as the saying goes-‘Genius is the mind of a child recovered at will’ .A mind set on goals, with a hunger for new ideas would have to be gluttonous on inputs. The most creative people, he stressed, are the ones who read, listen, observe, interact a lot and in turn, try to get that one spark from all the inputs combined. Being brave and lateral thinking were some more of the important aspects that he touched upon. Because, it is very easy to kill an idea, one has to be brave to move it forward.
1 hour was fast!
The lecture opened new avenues of thinking. It spoke of being unique in the most unique way-being simple, being inquisitive, having fun. It spoke that a mix of work and play sets the playground for new ideas. Really, Mr.Narasimhan upheld the point that it was indeed stupid not to welcome new ideas.
And it kept us thinking.

Compiled By:
Mauryanath Das
DoMS Interface
Class of 2013

Samanvay day one Lecture: Mr.Pawan Agarwal

If someone had mistaken this man and his colleague to be social activists actively campaigning in support for Anna Hazare, then that person could be forgiven. That’s because you don’t normally find CEO’s sporting a simple white dress, wearing a Gandhi cap. But, Mr.Pawan Agarwal, CEO Mumbai Dabbawala is not an ordinary man nor is the organization to which he belongs.
Highly qualified, Mr.Pawan Agarwal is a mix of intellect and practical sense. He is both a teacher and a leader brimming with energy and enthusiasm which affects all who meet him. Little did we know that the lecture he would give would go beyond the Dabbawalas connecting with the very fabric of our management theories.
He started his lecture by asking the same questions that were running in our minds. How do the dabbawalas do what they do so efficiently? Why no one else is able to replicate it? And then he started giving some very interesting answers.
Value systems play a role in customer confidence:

The Dabbawalas are not just any random group, but a specific sect of people called the Valkaris. They worship lord Vitalla in Pandaripur. In this sect those who take oath not to drink or Non-veg are called Malakri. Malakri or not the dabbawalas are not allowed to consume alcohol or Non-Veg before coming to work as customers might feel uncomfortable when the dabbawalas arrive to collect the tiffin boxes to be delivered. This fact would remind those who are related to management about the importance of Value systems in an organization.
Moreover, absenteeism from work which is not reported beforehand attracts a heavy fine which ensures that the dabbawalas show up for work as expected. However, if a Dabbawala reports that he wouldn’t show up for work beforehand then he is not subjected to the punishment of paying heavy fines.

Effectiveness need not be dependent on technology:

Later, he went on to explain what policies ensure the effectiveness of the dabbawalas.
The dabbawalas have access only to primitive technologies which they put to efficient use to accomplish their daily work. Collecting tiffin boxes from various households they transport them to their respective destinations using cycles, hand carts, wooden storage boxes and of course the suburban metro train service which forms the backbone of their service. It is amazing to see how in today’s world where technology has permeated to a great extent in many businesses, a business of this kind could exist. No IT. No latest technology. No Research & Development. Yet they have won some of the most prestigious awards in the industry circles including a certificate of Six Sigma compliance.
The point is they don’t need any to perform their activities to the best of their abilities. This should be an eye opener to those who believe that technology is a necessity in all businesses. Anything is necessary only if it serves a useful purpose to make the business activity better.
Communication – Visual representation can talk volumes
The entire job of delivering thousands of tiffin boxes over time have been made simple by a visual representation of the vital details of the delivery specifics.
Such a representation on top of each tiffin box is the lifeline of the dabbawala business. Hence, the dabbawalas always carry colour pencils with them and redraw the representation on top of tiffin boxes in case they seem to be fading beyond comprehension.
What’s the right pricing strategy?

Mr. Pawan Agarwal, spoke about the relationship they have with their customers. The organization values customer more than everything else. They demand a very nominal fee for their services which is the same for all customers irrespective of their income group. This equal treatment sends out a strong message that customer service is valued more than money.
Customer Relationship management is not an exclusive knowledge. It’s a very old science. Every businessman should know the nitty gritties of his customer relationship to run his business successfully.

Work is worship

Most of the dabbawalas are either illiterates or have only a basic level of education. But, they know their destination because of experience and that never fails them. The value of work experience shows in their efficiency which has earned them the Six Sigma recognition.

The grass root level workers are of two types. The members who deliver tiffin boxes and mukadams who are the group leaders. The group leaders are selected on the basis of a sole criterion. Age!
The dabbawalas respect elders and allow themselves to be guided by them. Hence, age is the sole criteria for becoming a group leader. How would that look on a Resume?!!
Org Structure – Simple and straightforward.
The Organization Structure of the dabbawalas is a simple hierarchy:
  • President
  • Vice President
  • General Secretry
  • Treasurer
  • Directors(9)
  • Mukadams (800)
  • Members(5000)·    
On the 15th of every month a meeting is held between the dabbawalas and the senior management to resolve any issues they might have at their workplace. That’s human resource management.
Corporate Social Responsibility

Finally, the Dabbawala senior management have taken initiatives like Sunday school education for the dabbawalas so that they can also learn English and computer science. This will help them apply this knowledge in their work. Moreover, the dabbawalas fund the lodging and dining for pilgrims to ashrams in fourholy places as a contribution to the society. Corporate social Responsibility at its best!
The impact
Education is just a tool to do the work you do more effectively and efficiently. It is not the sole criteria for success, especially in the field of management. Wisdom and culture can be nurtured by those who value it and perceive its power. The Mumbai dabbawalas have proved it and they continue to do so even as you read this very article.

Compiled By:
Bharath Raman
DoMS Interface
Class of 2013

Monday, December 5, 2011

SAMANVAY 2011:Day One

 The annual B-school fest of Department of Management Studies, IIT Madras - Samanvay, took place from 9-11 September 2011. Samanvay 2011, the 4th edition of its kind, comprised of various online and on-the-spot events, which saw the participation of about 6000 participants from over 40 business schools of the country, with 150 participants coming to DoMS. The offline events went on for over a month, from which the finalists were called to IITM for the final countdown.

Inauguration by Mr.Mukesh Malik
Samanvay 2011, started off with the welcoming of Chief Guest, Mr. Mukesh Malik, MD and Head, O&T, South Asia, Citibank. Along with  Mr. Pawan Aggarwal, CEO, The Mumbai Dabbawalas,  Prof V.G. Idichandy, Director, IIT Madras and Prof. G. Srinivasan, HoD, DoMS, IIT Madras were also present. The lighting of the lamp by our Chief Guest marked the auspicious inaugural of Samanvay. Our guests for the occasion, Prof G. Srinivasan and Prof. V.G Idichandy shared valuable words with the audience and infused further enthusiasm in all of them, including the participants for various events.Our Chief Guest, Mr. Mukesh Malik, then took over the podium, and shared with us the various financial perspectives pertaining to banking systems in India.The presentation that Mr. Malik gave was extremely informative and useful.

After our Chief Guest, Mr. Pawan Aggarwal took over to start with the guest lecture series and delivered an extremely interesting and enlightening speech on the operations of the Mumbai Dabbawalas. He provided insights on the ‘perfect’ supply chain management, and brought us down to the point of ‘having a passion to work and considering the customer as God’.
Prof.C.Rajendran presenting a memento to Mr.Pawan Aggarwal
Mr. Aggarwal has   won the ‘Best Teacher’ award for his contribution in education field and has delivered lectures in Netherlands, US, UK, Paris etc.

Mr. Narsimhan in an interactive session
This lecture was followed by the 2nd lecture in the Guest Lecture Series, by Mr. Prasad Narsimhan, Managing Partner, Brandgym, Asia. He provided various valuable insights on ‘Personal Branding’ and stressed the impotance of developing a ‘Creative economy’ in the present times. He emphasised the importance of Ideas, Mental Conditioning, Speculation etc. in personal branding, which has become inevitable in today’s competitive world. His speech opened our minds to think in a different and innovative manner.

The final guest lecture of the day was given by Mr. Balakrishnan, who is a consultant and Ex-EVP at Edelweiss. He specializes in Credit, Capital, Markets and Investment Advisory. His valuable insights on these topics provided the audience with the necessary practical aspects to the issues relating to it.

Mr.Balakrishnan in the final guest lecture session
This marked the end of the first day of Samanvay 2011. It was, in all, an intellectually stimulating series of lectures, which was a perfect blend of theoretical knowledge and the usage of the knowledge into practical applications.

Compiled By:
Shivangi Verma
DoMS Interface
Class of 2013

Business Process Outsourcing- Making sense of the sector

The Management Invitation Lecture Series (MILS) invited Mr. Srikanth Tanikella, Vice President Operations, Hewett Packard on 24th November 2011 for a talk on “Business Process Outsourcing-making sense of the sector”. Before being the Vice President, Operations at HP, Srikanth served as the Head of Knowledge Services Solutions Design at Infosys BPO. He holds a chemical engineering degree from IIT Delhi and is an MBA from IIM Calcutta.
Some facts and figures
Srikanth began with two anecdotes to represent the different aspects that the BPO industry has to contend with. He acquainted the audience with a sample of activities that a BPO or a KPO does for large firms. These activities include equity research, credit research, sales analytics, finance and controllership processes, consumer and business calls, etc. Then, Mr. Tanikella shed some light on the growth story of the sector. He said that the BPO sector has seen tremendous growth over the last 12 years and is estimated to be around $14 billion in FY 2011. It employs 4.5 million people directly or indirectly and in a way, has democratized employment.
By 1998, certain internal processes of US had moved out of the country. Medical transcriptions and call centers were dominant in the BPO sector in the initial years (1995-98). Then IT service firms started third party services (Progeon, TCS BPO, HCL BPO, etc.) which accelerated the growth of the sector (2000-2004). Knowledge process services like equity research, analytics, legal process outsourcing followed suit(2004-2009). The next level of outsourcing is Platform based services where process is seen as a service (2009-.
What’s in it for us?
Srikanth gave some interesting insights on the opportunities that this sector presents to the young MBA grads. The sector has seen continuous growth and is here to stay.  As more and more jobs are generated out of the sector, more managers will be required. Srikanth stressed on the fact that KPOs require skills that B-School grads possess. Also, there are plenty of entrepreneurial opportunities in the KPO sector.
Different models of Off-Shoring
Mr. Tanikella explained a few models (third party, liftout and pure captive) of off-shoring. In the third-party model the client chooses a vendor partner and transitions processes to the vendor. In the case of the liftout model, the vendor partner takes over the people and technology assets of the client related to a set of processes. As far as the pure captive model is concerned, the client sets up its own subsidiary offshore so that all assets and staff are owned by the client.
After the lecture, Srikanth answered a few questions from the audience. The lecture presented a different and holistic view of the BPO sector highlighting the various opportunities it offers.

Aditya Ghai
Batch of 2013

Photo Courtesy of:
Mauryanath Das
DoMS Interface
Class of 2013

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The 29th CSSI Endowment Lecture, IIT Madras

“Improving Productivity” by Mr K. Ananth Krishnan


The 29th IIT Madras CSSI Endowment Lecture, IIT Madras, was organised this year by the Department of Management Studies. This edition of the annual lecture series saw the presence of Mr K. AnanthKrishnan, CTO, TCS as the Chief guest, Prof. K. Ramamurthy, the Dean(Academic Courses) at IIT Madras, Mr V Thiagarajan, Vice-President – EFSI
Prof G Srinivasan, HoD, DoMS, welcomed the guests and gave an introduction of the department. With over 140 MBA students, 100 plus research students, 24 faculty members, DoMS encourages student initiated entrepreneurship. Talking about Productivity and Technology, he said that productivity, in simple, can be defined as input required to produce per unit of output; while mentioning technology, he said that it has brought speed, but he questioned whether would it be possible to increase productivity at the same pace. He also said that India is moving towards services, and hence, production in services should not be ignored.
Prof. Thiagrajan highlighted EFSI and its work. He said that following the steps of ILO (International Labour Organisation) which required organisations that specialized in industrial relations, labour policies, labour management etc., in separate countries, Madras Labour Union was founded in 1918. EFSI has its presence in 4 southern states of India, and during its Golden Jubilee in 1970, the Endowment Lecture series was commenced.
Prof. Ramamurthy then took over the stage and gave a brief introduction about Mr. K. Ananth Krishnan, who joined TCS in 1988 and is currently serving as the CTO, India. He is also the head of Corporate Technical Board and a consultant for various companies. The lecture that Mr.Ananth Krishnan delivered was titled “Improving Productivity
Mr.Ananth Krishnan commenced the lecture by defining productivity as the ratio of useful output per unit of input. He mentioned that productivity can have various definitions, and these definitions extend from individual to group, to firm, to industry and nations. He said that it is useful to correlate Quality to Quantity for any unit process. But in case of aggregate processes, economic factors should not be ignored. He also explained how important measurement and analysis were for success. Now, considering measurement, he said that there are two ways of carrying it out
1.       Standard metric : here we simply consider single factor like unit cost.
2.       Portfolio metric: which constitutes the aggregation of multiple factors like employee economics, customer economics etc. We eventually carry out factor analysis from this.
He said that since a number of factors are beyond any individual’s capabilities. the biggest problems that companies face is: how to judge R&D production? He also mentioned that investment in R&D sector form just 1% of the total GDP of India, which is not a very encouraging figure. Though, he said that, the economic cost of doing research(i.e publications per unit cost incurred) in India is among the lowest in the world.
Moving on to analysis, he explained by giving a very simple example: If we consider single factor analysis, we shall find that the output per unit input, or turnover decreases as we move up in the seniority level ladder. This does not give a very clear picture, and thus, we need to enter into the next level of detail and consider factors like value addition, experience etc.
After highlighting Measurement and Analysis, he moved on to the very stimulating topic of Customers. He said that since the customer is of the highest priority for any business, the need arises to classify them properly. There are 2 major categories in which customers can be broadly divided : Low maintenance customers and High maintenance customers( further categorized to direct and indirect). Any organisation needs to have a good proportion of both these types, as each is important for the organisation’s success.
The first type of industry that Mr Ananth Krishnan explained was manufacturing. He stated that any manufacturing company has broadly the following main functioning areas:
Supply Chain Management: includes inbound requests notifications, monitoring the production information and cash flows etc.
Dash Board: KPIs, plant efficiency, work-order backlogs etc.
Inventory: includes checking material stock levels, floor inventories, shelf life alerts.
Real Time manufacturing: Downtime notifications, threshold based alerts, monitoring KPIs on real time, production status on the go etc.
Changeover notifications: consists of threshold based alerts, predictive notifications to prepare material parts at the right time.
Warehouse: Shelf life notifications, tracking of high valued products etc.
Quality: Rejection alert notifications, production decision making, maintenance requests.
Maintenance: receiving maintenance alerts or tickets, access to equipments history, troubleshooting, engineering drawing, part details, parts ordering etc.
He stressed on the procedure applied to proceed with challenges, the first step being identifying the biggest challenge and coming up with a list of all the challenges. And then, carrying out the Drill Down procedure shall help dealing with such challenges.
He drew a similar analogy taking into consideration the Insurance Value chain, which again consists of 12 different areas like product development and pricing, marketing and sales, underwriting, risk management, information technology, legal etc. Here, an approach of Balanced Improvement and application of Predictive Analytics becomes important along with carrying out drill down. Similarly, he talked about the IT Industry and the importance of further automation in this sector too.
Mr Ananth Krishnan highlighted that there are 3 pillars on which the Productivity of our country is based:
1.       Having a framework to institutionalize different areas and prepare a balanced scorecard
2.       Having a systematic innovation process in productivity, which involves continuous improvement, transformations and descriptions.
3.       Creating a culture that encourages people to be more productive. He called it “Culture of Creative Dissatisfaction”.
He concluded the lecture by asking us to adapt to “Big-box perception” and develop organisational capabilities. He also said that using social networks in a enabling manner is as essential as searching for ideas.
The entire lecture was extremely insightful and motivating, and presented a very clear idea about the current state of productivity in India, and how it can be increased manifold. It was indeed a pleasure for the audience to listen to Mr Ananth Krishnan.

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