Monday, July 28, 2008

Lateral Thinking

Lateral thinking (LT) is a term coined by the eminent creative thinker Edward de Bono as early as 1967. However, even decades later, the concept is yet to find a true place in the functioning of organizations. The good thing, however, is that people have now started taking cognizance of the concept and have begun to understand it. This implies that we can be optimistic about a different business scenario in the years to come. Again, even this is not true. Lateral thinking has always existed and worked. It is just that we have not always done it very consciously.

But the essential question is - what is lateral thinking? Put in very simple words, LT is nothing but learning to think in an unconventional manner…thinking differently. Technically, they call it out-of-the-box thinking.

The next question that comes to mind is – how can LT be used in an organization? The ‘simple’ answer to this complex question may be that we can practice to look at the regular issues in organizations in a new light. Inherently, LT has a bearing on decision-making. This means that rather than going by what has always been done so far, we can consciously train our mind to look at things in a different framework so that we can make decisions differently.

How has Reliance grown? How did it gain so much popularity among the people? This is because the promoter(s), contrary to the business knowledge that time, believed in reaching out to the volume of people at a cheaper price. What did Tata Motors do? It took a decision which did not come naturally, to other business people – to produce a small car – Nano. Nano is targeted at capturing the lower end of the market. How did the idea of low cost flights come – through a pioneer who had the courage to do something different.

All the above are examples of unconventional thinking. This is what we mean by lateral thinking.

Dr. Meenakshi Khemka
Globsyn Business School

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Hidden Costs of Layoffs

Is downsizing a feasible or good option to bail out a company out of its financial problems? Companies often resort to downsizing to heal their financial woes. However, they over certain ‘Hidden Costs of Layoffs’. Here are some facts that companies need to consider before bringing out the axe.

1. The direct savings of layoffs are often wiped off by considerable indirect costs.

Layoffs usually seem to be a feasible option to cut costs in the short-term; the direct and indirect costs of downsizing can paralyze a company’s long-term revenue-generating streams. Initially for the first couple of quarters the books would depict a rosy picture, however in annual picture would be a bitter pill to bite. These indirect costs would range from losing experience sales and marketing employees who have strong relations with clients, to cost of replacement etc. This type of “binge-and-purge” tactic, common during recessionary periods, can place an organization in an unfavorable position when the recession comes to a close.

2. Your best employees might bolt after a round of cuts.

There are high chances that the top performers who have survived the axe of layoff won’t necessarily feel obligated to soldier on. Studies have confirmed that employees are far more likely to quit jobs in environments of repeated downsizing. The likelihood that an employee will quit actually increases the more layoffs he or she “survives”.

3. Layoffs don’t improve organizational performance.

The most hampering impact of a layoff is that the company would experience that their top brass who have survived the layoff would be on a lookout for better opportunity. This is the result of the lack of trust and confidence that has developed amongst them. They would prefer to sail on smooth waters then fighting the violent high seas. This would in turn have its toll on the productivity of the company. This is the prime reason why layoffs do not improve organizational performance.

4. The best types of workplaces often suffer the most.

For companies that touts themselves as receptive to the needs and personal development of its workers, layoffs can ring in more trouble. Layoffs can be perceived as a violation of the psychological contract between an organization and its employees, resulting in decreased trust and greater stress in the workplace. It would have a negative impact on the survivors of the layoff, whereby their commitment would be reduced hence having an impact on the overall productivity of the company.

5. Employee retention is linked with customer retention.

The perception of a layoff on the outsiders of the company would without doubt be negative. Convincing them that layoffs are absolutely necessary is probably impossible, since most companies that lay off employees aren’t actually in dire straits. There is a direct correlation between employee loyalty & customer loyalty. In the light of the aforementioned issues concerning the negative impact on the employees and their productivity, there is a reason to believe that customers would also have a negative perception for the company and would reconsider their ties with the company in long run.

There can be further more hidden impacts and costs of layoffs which may not be enlisted above. However, the question still remains…Is layoffs/ downsizing the best way out of a financial crisis??

Contributed By:
Mr. Param Shah
(Assistant Registrar)
Globsyn Business School - Ahmedabad

Monday, July 21, 2008

Managerial Roles

Dear Students,

In one of my recent write-ups, I shared with you the various managerial functions*. The purpose of this communiqué is to mention the various managerial roles.

So, after you have finished reading this article, you will be certain that functions and roles are not synonymous to a manager. This aspect of managerial roles is the work of Henry Mintzberg who is one of the proponents of the modern school of management thoughts.

According to Mintzberg, a manager can primarily discharge 3 roles, namely, interpersonal roles, informational roles and decisional roles. Let us see what each of these roles constitute:

(a) Interpersonal roles:
(i) Figurehead: performing ceremonial & social duties as the organisation’s representative e.g. at Conference.
(ii) Leader: of people, uniting & inspiring the team to achieve objectives.
(iii) Liaison: communication with people outside the manager’s work group or the organization.

(b) Informational roles :
(i) Monitor: receiving information about the organisation’s performance and comparing it with objectives.
(ii) Disseminator: passing on information , mainly to subordinates.
(iii) Spokesman: transmitting information outside the unit or organisation on behalf of the unit or organisation.

(c) Decisional roles :
(i) Entrepreneur: being a ‘fixer’- mobilising resources to get things done & sieze opportunities.
(ii) Disturbance-handler: rectifying mistakes and getting operations and relationships back on course.
(iii) Resource-allocator: distributing resources in the way that will most efficiently achieve defined objectives.
(iv) Negotiator: bargaining, eg.,for required resources & influence.

The crux lies in understanding which role you should play at a given point of time & act accordingly.

With best wishes,

Prof. D. P. Chattopadhyay
(Globsyn Business School)

* To read 'Managerial Functions' click here

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Management Lessons from the film,"Sholay"

Dear Students,

Revise your lessons on management while you view the attachments.

Best wishes,

(Globsyn Business School)

Click here to download the lesson.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Competition-Don't take it easy

Indians out-ran Lanka on July 3 at Karachi to join Sri Lanka in the July 6 Final of 9th Asia Cup Cricket Competition chasing Sri Lanka's total of 308. India romped home in the 47th over losing four wickets in the process. A remarkable victory. But India's Jinx continues. Unorthodox spinner sets record in Lanka's 100-Run Victory over India on July 6 at Karachi. A tale of two different days.

India won 1st Twenty-20 World Cup. Lost recently in Bangladesh & now in Pakistan. Result is the ultimate thing. In competition result is the final outcome. Result decides champion.

Reebok, Adidas, Nike are well ahead of Bata. Bata is now like Indian Cricket Team. Once upon a time champion of the competition. At present the loser. Philips a front-runner of earlier days is currently trailing behind. "The Statesman" (an English News daily) is no where in the competition. All other Engish News Dailies are well ahead of "The Statesman". To remain champion of the Competition one has to follow the following simple rules:
  1. Hard work, Hard work & Hard work-No substitute for Hard work.
  2. No complacency.
  3. Always prepare for the adverse.
  4. Always have positive frame of mind.
  5. Firm determination.
  6. All through Proactive.
  7. Never undermine the competitors & at the same time never overestimate.
  8. Teamwork.
  9. High morale & motivation.
  10. Good Human Relation techniques like Tatas & not like Diamond Merchants of Bhavnagar, Gujarat.
At last
Citi never sleeps/IBM is always ahead/Microsoft is going strong/Google is Google-all are champions in their respective field.
Never try to follow the philosophy of the Indian Cricket Team and in that case you will be a great loser.

Be champion always, even in your PGDM/PGDIB examinations. Come out always with flying colours. Follow the above positive tips for success. Success will be yours.

Prof. B. K. Bhattacharya
(Globsyn Business School - Ahmedabad)

Picture Source:
Picture © : AFP

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Global Ethics and The Four-Way Test

Moral codes and ethics give us tools but also raise questions to be answered:

How should we live? What is morally good and bad, right and wrong? Shall we aim at happiness or knowledge? Virtue or the creation of beautiful objects? If we choose happiness, will it be our own or the happiness of all?

In today's world, it is all the more confusing to determine what exactly is right and wrong. Ethics deals with such confusing questions at all levels….
  • Is it right to be dishonest for a good cause?
  • Can we justify living in opulence while people are starving elsewhere?
  • Is going to war warranted when innocent people are going to die?

Rotary offers a possibility for solving ethical problems. For Rotary, The Four-Way Test is the cornerstone of all action. This test was developed in 1932 by Herbert J.Taylor and is one of the hallmarks of the Rotary movement worldwide. There are 4 brief questions which are not based on culture or religion. Instead they are a simple checklist for ethical behavior. They transcend generations and national borders.

Of the things we think, say or do...

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

As adults, we should have The Four-Way Test in mind in every decision we make, all day long. Our utmost responsibility is to speak the truth, to be fair, to build goodwill and better friendships, and to do our very best in all situations.

Contributed By:
Indrani Kar
(Knowledge Cell - Globsyn Technologies)
GBS Alum

(Adapted from the speech of RI Director-elect Lars-Olof Fredriksson, of the Rotary Club of Aanekoski, Finland. He is a retired major in the Finnish air force)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Achievers are made, not born !

Dear Students,

Today in almost every sphere of life achievers are being singled out and rewarded for the value they add to their organizations.

How can one be an achiever ? Remember the ten guidelines listed below:

  • Create a favourable impression.
  • Promote yourself.
  • Be enthusiastic.
  • Be empathetic.
  • Make influential friends.
  • Think creatively.
  • Be a good decision maker.
  • Delegate.
  • Be even tempered.
  • Avoid isolation.

Think not of the great things you’ve done. But of all the things that still need to be done. Then get started again. You will joyfully discover that you always emerge as an achiever.

With best wishes,

(Globsyn Business School)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Tips for Adult Learning

  1. Adults seek out learning experiences in order to cope with specific life-changing events--e.g. a new job, a promotion, marriage, retiring, moving to a new city.
  2. Any change brings in stress and the motivation to cope with change through engagement in a learning experience increases.
  3. The learning experiences of the adults are guided by their own perception of the life-changing events.
  4. Learning is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
  5. Increasing or maintaining one's sense of self-esteem and pleasure are strong secondary motivators for engaging in learning experiences.
  6. Adult learners tend to focus heavily on the application of the concept to relevant problems. Adults need to be able to integrate new ideas with what they already know if they are going to keep - and use - the new information.
  7. Adults tend to take errors personally and are more likely to let them affect self-esteem. Therefore, they tend to apply tried-and-true solutions and take fewer risks.
  8. Adults prefer self-directed and self-designed learning projects to group-learning experiences. They select more than one medium for learning, and they desire to control pace and start/stop time.
  9. Self-direction does not mean isolation. Studies of self-directed learning indicate that self-directed projects involve an average of 10 other people as resources, guides, encouragers and the like. But even for the self-professed, self-directed learner, lectures and short seminars get positive ratings, especially when these events give the learner face-to-face, one-to-one access to an expert.
  10. Adults have something real to lose in a classroom situation. Self-esteem and ego are on the line when they are asked to risk trying a new behavior in front of peers.
  11. Adults bring a great deal of life experience into the classroom, an invaluable asset to be acknowledged, tapped and used. Adults can learn well -and much - from dialogue with respected peers.
  12. New knowledge has to be integrated with previous knowledge; students must actively participate in the learning experience.
  13. The key to the instructor role is control. The instructor must balance the presentation of new material, debate and discussion, sharing of relevant student experiences, and the clock.

Hence, adults want their learning to be problem-oriented, personalized and accepting of their need for self-direction and personal responsibility.

Innovation Abstracts Vol VI, No 8, March 9, 1984

Contributed by Ms. Ipsita C. Patranabis

Globsyn Business School

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Values & Ethics for Wholesome Development

Dear Students,

We are conventionally concerned for materialistic development. Pitifully, this is not enough. Concurrently,we should also strive for spiritual development. Once these two coexist, we can achieve wholesome development.

Values & ethics are the hinges of spiritual development.

But what are the ingredients of values & ethics ? The following constituents will help to understand this:

People conscience: Belief in the ‘goodness’ of people and drive to act on people-oriented values; an acute awareness of the central importance of the human capital.

Responsibility: The capacity for taking psychological ownership of personal behaviour, especially work; an understanding of how to help others, feel similar ownership for
their work.

Rectitude: The capability to live by a set of principles, choosing what is ‘right’.

Ethics lies in doing, values in being & becoming. Ethics, therefore, is nothing but an expression of values.

So, it is imperative that we cultivate values & ethics. When this happens there is a reversal of priorities. In other words:

  • Materialism gives way to Humaneness
  • Competition is replaced by Co-operation
  • Corruption is substituted by Uprightness
  • Awareness of Unethicality is converted into Awareness of Ethicality
  • Greed is converted into Contentment
  • Pressure for Profit transcends into Responsibility to Stakeholders

Let us pledge to imbibe the above attributes and in the process work towards wholesome development.

With best wishes,

Prof. D. P. Chattopadhyay
(Globsyn Business School)