Thursday, October 30, 2008

Inner Peace

There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures. But there were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peacefully towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the king looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on the nest--in perfect peace.

Which picture do you think won the prize? The king chose the second picture. Do you know why?

"Because," explained the king, "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."

"When Life gives you a thousand reasons to cry, show that you have a million reasons to smile."

Contributed By:
Mary Verghese
(Manager HR - Globsyn)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Some Motivating & Inspiring Quotes

"When two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as he wants to be seen, and each man as he really is." Michael De Saintamo.

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." Helen Keller.

"Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success." Henry Ford.

"When your team is winning, be ready to be tough, because winning can make you soft. On the other hand, when you team is losing, stick by them. Keep believing." Bo Schembechler.

"Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds." SEAL Team saying.

"The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime." Babe Ruth.

"If a team is to reach its potential, each player must be willing to subordinate his personal goals to the good of the team." Bud Wilkinson.

"When he took time to help the man up the mountain, lo, he scaled it himself." Tibetan Proverb.

"In order to become a leading home run hitter, a batter must be surrounded by good hitters, otherwise, the pitchers will 'pitch around' him. Likewise, many successful people became that way from being on a good team." Laing Burns Jr.

"A group becomes a team when all members are sure enough of themselves and their contributions to praise the skill of others." Anonymous.

"Teamwork is neither "good" nor "desirable." It is a fact. Wherever people work together or play together they do so as a team. Which team to use for what purpose is a crucial, difficult and risky decision that is even harder to unmake. Managements have yet to learn how to make it." Peter F. Drucker.

"It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed." Napoleon Hill.

"If we were all determined to play the first violin we should never have an ensemble. Therefore, respect every musician in his proper place." Robert Schumann.

"Finding good players is easy. Getting them to play as a team is another story." Casey Stengel.

"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down." Oprah Winfrey.

Contributed By:
Rupee RoyChodhury
(Senior HR Executive - IBM Daksh)
GBS Alum

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Recruitment Paradox: Why Good People are Difficult to Find

This story has its beginning in early 1999 when a front-line commercial bank in East Africa appointed a London based, globally reputed, executive placement firm to recruit a managing director and CEO for itself. Three applicants were short-listed. They were invited to visit East Africa separately, and individually meet the members of the board of the bank. One of the three, an American, was finally selected to head the bank. He assumed office in September 1999.

Within a fortnight of taking charge, an e-mail went from his desk to everyone in the bank. The subject line read: “Stop the music.” In his message to all employees, the new managing director asked everyone to refrain from making demands on him for decisions on one thing or another. Essentially – no new customers, no new business, no new advances, no new contacts, no new individual strategies and no new initiatives. He asked everyone to focus on first strengthening the foundation and gearing up its infrastructure before going out to build business.

Committees were formed to review, re-think, re-strategize, restructure, re-organize and re-build a uniform, focused corporate structure. Meetings were seen to be held every day, at almost every corner of the organization. One general manager was removed from heading operations to write operating manuals. The HR manager was instructed to come up with a totally new HR policy document for the bank. Others were similarly engaged.

So it went on for months. “No isolated, ad-hoc new initiatives till we – as an organization – are ready in all respects” was the message that went out over and over again. In one instance, the treasury was pulled up for grabbing a simple inward remittance business of around a million dollars that came their way (who could blame them!). Reason? The bank was yet to finalize and approve its marketing and business policies.

Business, income, and profitability plummeted. Months down the line the staff, the customers, and the market – everyone was confused. After drifting aimlessly for some time, senior executives began to leave. Finally, the board of the bank acted. The same board that had appointed him a little more than a year ago, asked him to resign.

What had gone wrong? Primarily, two things. One, the candidate did have banking experience, but that exposure had been acquired only in highly developed countries – far removed from the environs of countries like Africa. Second, his banking experience was dated. For, he had been away from practical banking, working only as a consultant – attached to a number of consulting firms – for the last 20 years. Three, unfortunately for him and for the bank, he was just not able to take off the hat of a ‘consultant’ that he had been wearing for the past 20 years. He failed to see himself as the bank’s chief executive and the ship’s captain.

This begs the next question: Who had gone wrong? To start with, the executive search firm. The consulting agency’s failure – to select the person with the right profile and attitude – was further compounded by the bank’s board. It tried to select a CEO for the bank – without having a single person on its board with a minimal knowledge of banking. It also failed to evaluate the psychological profile of the candidate.

Thus, a top-rung executive search firm made a glaring error in discharging its obligations. On its part, the bank’s board also attempted to achieve something it was not equipped to do, or was capable of doing.

Is it any wonder, therefore, that we hear a never-ending lament about perennial shortage of ‘the right people’? Most employers, unfortunately, expect ‘the right people’ to be available ‘off-the-shelf’ – tailor made, custom built, ready-to-use, able to ‘hit the ground running.’ That is rarely the case – even with senior executives. However, for argument’s sake, even if we agree for a moment that candidates were like ready-to-eat, pre-cooked food (any thought about who was supposed to the ‘pre-cooking’?), my experience tells me that the fault lies more with those who are directly involved with the recruitment game. In reality, good people – yes, the ‘right ones’ – are available, in sufficient numbers too. Most of us do not know how to find them.

Take the case of the placement agencies. Ideally speaking, on getting an assignment to fill up a vacancy, the agency ought to first do its homework well. Among other things, it should strive to understand the organization and its work culture, its style of management, performance parameters, how success is measured within the organization, the job profile, the profile of the person most suited for the job, the career path, etc. For, these issues are of great importance to the prospective candidate, and hence, to the organization, if marriage is to be a success.

Another error that most placement consultants and personnel managers commit is in not spending some time and effort to build up a ‘candidate profile.’ What sort of people are they really looking for? What attitude does the position demand? They fail to realize that the attitudes of people at various positions differ widely – from one organization to another, from one position to another. For example, does the organization need an opening batsman or a middle order player? Even for the opening batsman – would he be playing in a test match or in one-dayers? Their style and requirements will, no doubt, differ.

Unfortunately, majority of the placement consultants turn out to be only ‘head hunters’, literally. Like the one in the story that I began this article with, the ‘head-hunters’ believe that their business is only about pulling people out of one job and placing him in another, and pocketing the search fee. They do not do the home work
that is essential in this kind of business. Accountability is, therefore, virtually non-existent.

Another area that does not get its due attention is the proper analysis of CVs received. Here too, those responsible fail badly. We read tomes on how to write effective CVs. Never once have I heard about developing the skills required to properly ‘read’ (i.e. interpret) a CV. The HR manager, the personnel manager, or the consultant in charge of the client portfolio in a placement agency – they generally delegate the responsibility to sort out and short-list candidates to a junior staff, who, more often than not, is ill-equipped to do the job. He has little idea about the requirements of the job, the required profile of the candidate, or is short on the skills required to separate the wheat from the chaff. For all one knows, a good candidate could get the short-shrift at this stage itself. I have seen it happen far too many times to be convinced otherwise.

There are a number of search firms who claim to be a sector specific. But rarely do they have on their rolls top level, highly experienced professionals who are simultaneously skilled in the art of ‘reading’ CVs, and in interviewing potential recruits for a specialized position. Do these professionals ever do the short-listing themselves? During interviews, do the head-hunters look for only the minimum fit, or for the best possible candidate – and no compromises? At what stage do the placement consultants begin to look for other attributes in the candidates, viz. their IQ, their EQ (emotional quotient), their ability to work in a team environment, that fire in the belly, originality, latent leadership qualities, and so on? At what stage does the Personnel/ HR manager, or the functional head get involved?

One must realize that almost everyone pays a price for wrong selection. The person so recruited, once already destabilized, would eventually end up being back in the market, job hunting. In consequence, the manpower planning, and hence the growth process of the organization, would simultaneously suffer a serious setback too. The after-effect of a ‘sack’ is never pleasant for the people within the organization, the organization itself, or the person directly affected. The one who escapes relatively unscathed is the placement consultant. I have rarely seen them assume a share of the responsibility and offer to compensate the organization (not to speak of the victim of a misjudged recruitment) in one way or another.

Till the recruitment process is toned up, the people responsible for manpower selection, within and outside the organization, do their homework properly and with sincerity, approach each placement with the seriousness it deserves, the gulf between the vast pool of talent still going untapped and organizations perennially in search of the ‘right people’, will never be bridged.

Contributed By:
Rupnarayan Bose
(Former MD of Fina bank Ltd. & MD of TransAfrica Bank Ltd.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Blue Ocean Strategy

Dear Students,

Dr. Sarah Layton has aptly described the titled topic in the book: Blue Ocean Strategy: How to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant, by Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.

What does Blue Ocean Strategy mean ?


  • Blue Ocean Strategy creates uncontested market space in contrast to Red Ocean Strategy which strives to compete in the existing market space.
  • Blue Ocean Strategy makes competition irrelevant as against Red Ocean Strategy which attempts to beat the competition.
  • Blue Ocean Strategy creates and captures new demand whereas Red Ocean Strategy exploits existing demand.
  • Blue Ocean Strategy breaks the value-cost trade-off while Red Ocean Strategy makes the value-cost trade-off.
  • Blue Ocean Strategy aligns the whole system of a firm's activities in pursuit of differentiation and low cost compared to Red Ocean Strategy which aligns the whole system of a firm's activities with its strategic choice of differentiation or low cost.
Obviously then, the ideal would be to conceive a Blue Ocean Strategy.

With best wishes,
(Globsyn Business School)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Social Loafing

Dear Students,

Have you, so far, come across the term 'Social Loafing’ in Organisation Behaviour?

Social Loafing is a problem that is commonly found in almost all organisational contexts. With most tasks being accomplished by teams, it is quite common for a few members to slack off and not contribute to the team's cause, and yet not have the results suffer. A simple definition of one in social loafing is an agent who does not contribute his fair share to the cost of production of a resource, but receives an equal share of the benefits. Sometimes this is also known as free riding.

The key difference between free riding and social loafing is that a free rider does not contribute to the cause at all, since his contribution is not essential for success, whereas a social loafer merely reduces his effort fully knowing that it would be impossible for an external observer to determine the same.

Dealing with free riding and social loafing:

The Ringelmann experiment suggests that the size of the group may have some answers to offer us. A good manager may need to precisely identify the number of people it would require to successfully accomplish a task. Second, social loafing is seen in situations where it is impossible to identify individual contribution.

Thus, a good way to prevent it may be to clearly define the individual's role in the group task. Third, it is seen that social loafing does not present a major problem in cohesive teams (the reason being that team members value their affiliation with the group more than any benefits associated with social loafing). Thus, the choice of specific team members for a task may also help in minimising social loafing.

Task significance may also have a role to play in increasing motivation levels to perform. Task significance refers to the relevance of the task to the immediate organisation, group, society or the world at large.

One suspects that social loafing may be a less common phenomenon in an NGO, compared to other types of organisations.

Reward systems such as stock options and performance bonuses too increase the cost of not contributing, as non-contribution would directly lead to reduced benefits for the individual team member.

Thus, each team member would at least contribute in his own self interest.

So, as managers, our endeavour should be to reduce social loafing within a team.

With Dassera greetings & happy Shuvo Bijoya!

(Globsyn Business School)

Monday, October 13, 2008


How critical is the role of the opening batsman to the success of a cricket team? What should be his profile? Let me quote someone who should know:

“Technique, patience… The ability to adapt to different conditions… The approach, after all, has to be different on a flat wicket as opposed to one where the wicket is doing quite a bit.

I personally feel the position should go to specialists…… Indeed, it’s the openers alone who set the tone for the innings… Take the shine off the new ball, protect the middle order. At the highest level, you must have both technique and temperament – in the right quantities…. Different players have different styles but, if you play straight you can’t go wrong. Besides, work hard – never try to cut corners – and enjoy yourself. If you see cricket as a chore, then, well, I don’t think you will go far.”

So said Graham Gooch, former England cricket captain and a formidable opening batsman with 8,900 Test runs, in an interview speaking about the qualities of an opening batsman. (The Telegraph, Calcutta, 10/Sept/2002).

Any person who has a minimal idea about the game of cricket knows the indispensable role played by a good opening batsman. Without a good opening score, the middle order gets exposed too quickly to the new ball. The middle order is thus forced to wear the hat that had not been made for him. If the opening batsman fails and goes out too quickly, the event forces a change in the whole game plan for the team think-tank and for those who are scheduled to follow. In the game of cricket the role and the contribution of the opener to the success of the team as a whole can hardly be over-emphasized.

Now, put a similar question to any placement consultant, HRD or personnel manager, or even a corporate strongman. Enquire from him about his perception of the role of the first CEO, the first COO, or the first unit head of any new initiative for that matter. I’d be quite surprised if you elicit from him anything similar to the passionate response that you are likely to receive from a lover of the game of cricket. Why the difference? Rather, why the comparison? Let me attempt to answer that.

I equate the role and responsibilities of an opening batsman in cricket to the first incumbent of any new initiative. Whatever be its size or structure, I strongly feel that the first Chief Executive, the first Chief Operating Officer, the first branch manager, the first leader – every captain or head of a new unit – is of critical importance to the future well-being and success of that unit and eventually of the organization. The first incumbent must be chosen with extreme care. That choice of the leader would set the tone for the rest of the team, and thus spell the difference between success and failure of the initiative in the long run.

Let us compare the cricketing and the organizational scenarios a little more closely. Before a new match (a Test or a one-day game) begins, and the team is selected, the nature of the pitch is always a matter of serious concern and speculation. So also is the nature of the opposition. Yet, no one can bet for sure as to how the pitch is going to behave – at the early stage or the later. The job of the opening pair, however, is to contend with the uncertainties, blunting the venom of every bit of arsenal that the opposition may throw at him during the initial stages of the game, unveiling and exposing the sting (or the lack of it) in the pitch or of the opposition, and setting the tone for the rest of the game. He actually lays the foundation on which the team’s future is built. He makes it easier for the middle order and those to follow to do their job well. However, the truth remains that no amount of preparation and forward planning can substitute for the role that an opening batsman must play on the real arena.

As in the game of cricket, a lot of planning usually goes into a project when a new initiative is launched. Yet, no one can bet for sure as to how the various players in the market will respond, and their impact on the success or failure of that initiative. One is not even sure as to whether all the planning and the preparation were the right ones till they are actually put to the test in the market place. Every assumption remains a speculation – or an uninformed guesswork at best – till tested in the field. Seeing the new venture through the initial period of uncertainties, tackling the teething troubles, resolving unforeseen issues and problems, can best be tackled only by someone special. “At the highest level, you must have both technique and temperament in the right quantities”, says Gooch. A wrong choice for the top job, therefore, will more often than not result in most of the things going wrong from inception. If, unfortunately, that happens, the rest will not matter.

To my mind, to give itself a fair chance to succeed, the entity must take great care to choose in its first skipper the person who has the right temperament and technique, and – this is equally important – in the right quantities. The correct mix between the two qualities must be ensured. The captain must then be left to choose the others who fit the right profile, and thus set up the core team.

This choice of key people will set the tone and the culture for the new initiative. The tone that he sets will endure over time, and be the key to the work culture, the value system and the ethical standards that will define the initiative, and by extension, impact the rest of the organization.

That brings me to the issue that, in my opinion, is ‘mission critical’. I cannot help but repeat what Graham Gooch said about the opening batsmen in the game of cricket. “Different players have different styles but, if you play straight you can’t go wrong. Besides, work hard – never try to cut corners…”.

When he uttered those words, I keep wondering whether he was referring to the game of cricket alone. Or whether he was recounting, for the benefit of every one of us, an enduring philosophy that went far beyond the game of cricket? You do not have to go very far to find the truth of what he said. Remember Enron, remember Worldcom, remember Arthur Anderson, or Bearings? How many people there played with a straight bat? How many of them tried to cut corners? How and to what extent, did their actions impacted their own organizations? Where are they today?

The work ethics and the value system once set, is generally not susceptible to any rapid changes. If the organization has picked the right kind of people initially, that would have sent a message down the line, and set the tone for the organization. Unless a major turn-around takes place, I believe that it is quite difficult for the ‘wrong’ kind of people to find a footing and to prosper. Because – the ‘tone’ of the organization has already been defined, etched, carved out and set by the opening batsmen. The right technique, the right temperament, a straight bat, and no cutting corners – in cricket or in life – and one can hardly go wrong!

R.N. Bose
CEO of Institute of Banking Studies

Monday, October 6, 2008

Happy Festive Season

Dear Students,

Shuvo Saptami & a very happy Durga Puja & a wonderful festive season !

Remember, success results when preparation meets opportunity. Some people may attribute luck to success. For such people, I would remind them what Hrishi Aurobindo said, "Success results when efforts from below meets grace from above."

So let us all pray to Almighty to shower grace for success in all our endeavours, and also pledge to put in our best efforts in all that we do.

Have a wonderful time & with best wishes,

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

Friday, October 3, 2008

Leadership at various levels

Dear Students,

Leadership activities vary at different levels of the organisation. At a relatively junior level, performance leadership is important, at a middle level, people leadership is vital, while at a senior level, visionary and strategic leadership is crucial.

Now, let us examine each of the above types of leadership in terms of its components:

  • Ensures the organisation is strongly goal, performance and achievement focused.
  • Demonstrates the ability and attitude to lead the achievement of challenging goals and change, while managing risk and breaking new ground.
  • Balances risk with achievement, not risk avoidance-is not risk averse.
  • The organisation consistently meets its performance goals. The organisation has a performance track record of growth and of continually improving performance.
  • The organisation's performance is consistently better than its competitors or other comparable organisations.


  • Attracts, retains, develops, motivates and leads an effective team capable of achieving company objectives.
  • Human resource planning is an integral part of the annual business planning process.
  • Provides enhanced leadership-acts as a role model, committed to developing subordinates and leading people.
  • Strong on empowerment-allows scope for people to grow.
  • Maintains a culture support of GEN-X & Y values, not stifled by stucture and hierarchy.
  • Grows people (Grows their CV).
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively with and achieve results through a diverse range of people.
  • Creates a stimulating culture


  • Articulates a clear and inspiring vision, actively fosters and encourages ownership of the vision by staff and ensures the vision is well understood and motivates the employees to work towards achieving goals.
  • The vision and supporting goals underpin and guide decisions and behaviours.
  • Contributes effectively with the board to establishing strategies, objectives and plans with a view to growing the business, while meeting the needs of shareholders, taking account of employee supplier, customer and other stakeholder interests.
  • Demonstrating an international perspective and a good understanding of global markets and global thinking.

The above will help you place leadership in proper perspective in an organisational canvas.

With best wishes,
(Globsyn Business School)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Test of a Good Theory

What is a good theory? How would you know one if you found it? These are the questions addressed by two organizational behaviorists in an attempt to point out the directions for future research.

The first notes that any theory must be of practical relevance for managers. That is, it must be useful. To be useful, the researchers suggest 5 conditions that must be met:

  1. Descriptive Relevance: The theory must accurately describe the phenomenon actually encountered by the manager.
  2. Goal Relevance: The theory must relate to something that the managers wishes to influence.
  3. Operational Validity: The theory must relate to variables that the managers can control.
  4. Non-obviousness: The theory must add something beyond the ‘common sense’ level of knowledge.
  5. Timeliness: Must be available at the time when managers need it.

Contributed By:
Indrani Kar
(Knowledge Cell - Globsyn Business School)

Kenneth W Thomas and Walter G Tymon, Jr.
“NECESSARY PROPERTIES OF RELEVANT RESEARCH: Lessons from recent criticisms of the organizational Sciences Academy of Management Review 7”