Every bank in the present competitive environment needs to hurry through its plans & strategies for 2014. Every bank will also want to be a winner. Here’s an outline of a Five-Step process for a likely winner : 1. Define your strength and weaknesses/order and disorder prevailing in the operations/functions vis-a-vis your stated purpose. What will happen if you continue doing what you are doing now ? Are they compatible with your existing structure/resource(s) ? Will they make people (customers) contented or discontented ? Essentially it means taking stock of the existing activities and their impact on the economy. 2. Create a vivid and compelling Vision of the ideal future that your bank will stay committed to winning. Essentially this means giving a vivid description of the nature of major structure/pillar constituting the embodiment of the bank. Its organization, overall, will comprise a tangible part of the whole. 3. Start planning for strategies and activities now for the year 2014. Frame a clear mission statement for the end of year goals with a monthly road map in realization of the goals. This is expected to provide the momentum and drive the employees to better performance. 4. Get the Leadership and Operational Strategies aligned with the customers’ needs. 5. State what is clearly evident. List the various plain choices that seem obvious in terms of banking products; customer status; and any others that the bank embarks upon. Know what your competitors do and their expectations of what you will attempt along with your own prospects of future good in the present circumstances. This will help the bank lay out a map of where they are and where they will be at the end of the year. Also, this can effectively lead the bank of their expected or unexpected options and ensure that customers benefit if the Bank Wins.
Crystallisation of the above in terms of Leadership will lead the Bank to develop adequate support in terms of Operational Commitments and Customer Relationship that managers/employees display. To cite some cardinal principles that need to be taken note of in this regard : (a) Be enduring and helpful in furnishing instructions and illustrations. (b) Be compassionate and supportive when the person is solicitous or in distress. (c) Be polite and considerate. (d) Treat every employee as a good individual with due respect. (e) Remember important details about the customer (like their names ). (f) Express confidence in the person when the task is difficult. (g) Be willing to help with personal problems. (h) Show acceptance and positive regard for others. (i) Provide assistance with the work when needed.
Simple prescriptions, these, it may appear; and yet they remain ignored and overlooked even today in relationships with less successful results.
Every bank will want to be pre-eminent; and will also want to advance rapidly. It is extremely important that competitors withstand imitating them if only to stay ahead of the pack.
Addressing the Wall Street Bankers recently at the SIFMA Annual Meeting, former US President Bill Clinton said : ” We live in the most independent time in History. Isolation is not an option. Creative Cooperation is a better model than Constant Conflict. Banks need to go back to Square One and offer a detailed Plan on how it is going to lead the country back to Financial Prosperity.” Asked by one of the participants as to what will be his prescription, he replied : ” BE TRANSPARENT and FOCUS ON GRASSROOTS LEVEL.” Clinton also suggested that the recent fines levied on banks to be put in an “Infrastructure Bank” (not in the Treasury ) to give more power to the economy. That is how we can Build a New Economy.
Most banks in the world fighting a structural, financial, & mental struggle in this critical period needs to echo the Quality, Virtue and Worth of other progressive sectors to surpass its own competitors.
” Dieu avec nous “
Friday, November 22, 2013 – 9.29 p.m. ( IST )
Tidbit : ” Leadership in any sector is not SURGERY ( which essentially solves the problems ); It is PSYCHIATRY ( where afflicted peoples’ skills are developed so they’ll solve their own problems ).”
If you think that the ability to go beyond the powers of the ‘Five Senses’ ( with the sixth Commonsense ) is a peculiar privilege showered on human beings only, “Qualcomm” is out to extend such power to the Digital Society of this New Age with its “DIGITAL SIXTH SENSE”, the ‘Toq’ Smartwatch. This may not be the summit of the Advanced Tech Age, but something Qualcomm aspires to take humanity to that level ‘summa cum laude’.
Basically it is the wireless connection to our smartphone. It is compatible with Android 4.0.3 and above mobile devices; features a Mirasol 1.5″ display; MEMS technologies; & wireless charging. It is the world’s FIRST Smartwatch to enable a true ‘drop & go’ charging experience, which Qualcomm has patented as ‘WiPower LE Technologies’. It can manage smartphone calls, text messages, hook in to weather and e:mail, making reminders & various notifications – all from one’s wrist. Plus, the color capacitive touchscreen can go days before needing energy. ‘Toq’ comes with a low power 200 MHz Cortex M3 Processor which extends the battery life. It looks great in direct sunlight – the quality that makes it stand apart in smartwatch category. MIRASOL screens use reflected light and use almost no power in between screen refreshes as opposed to LCD and OLED screens.
Qualcommspeak : ‘Qualcomm’ expects customers to think of ‘Toq’ like Google Glass, a new prototype that actually not just works but also LEADS the way for FUTURE PRODUCTS using this technology. Qualcomm intends for MIRASOL Displays and Low Power Processors to be the TWIN-ENGINES driving the growth of even the mainstream watchmakers without big tech embedding, and sophisticated software & services – remembering the effects of Fossil’s Palm Watch, and Microsoft’s SPOT Watches, which collapsed and disappeared earlier.
How dear is to our wallet : It is priced at $ 350 and will be available on CyberMonday, December 2, 2013. For comparison, ‘Pebble’ the Black & White smartwatch from the start-up of the same name as ‘Kickstarter’ sells at $150. It has already sold 85, 000 units, reports mention. ‘Pebble’ is waterproof, long life, and charges via a magnetic charger like ‘MagSafe’. Another smartwatch ‘Martian’ acts as both a speakerphone & Siri interface with a dedicated Siri button. It is also economical. Can the features of the two merged in a Smartwatch ? Qualcomm is the best judge . Whether the price point fixed for Qualcomm’s ‘Toq’ is RIGHT ? Can we get something in the range of $200 or less ?
Future plan : Qualcomm is on the move to roll out the “Internet of Things Platform” ( AllJoyn ) which will connect many more devices and make our Life experience very, very special. What better than to preserve our homes with Tech enabled NEW FEATURES ? Can Qualcomm pull all our electronic gadgets at home together a la ‘corps de ballet’ in a theatre ?
Qualcomm is a necessity, a beacon to light up, and to accomplish that ‘Goal’.
” Dieu avec nous “
Wednesday, November 20, 2013. – 12.59 p.m. (IST)
Traditionally Banks have been performing the chief function of keeping, lending, and exchange of Money – in effect a sort of a money-box for the savings of individuals. With the change in times, population growth, growth of economy banks also grew in numbers, size, products offered, and the technology adopted. Concurrent with these changes popped the risk which, over time, assumed proportions out of the common course with the normal/nature. Result : Enlargement of functions like Investment which posed newer challenges, unforeseen failures, customer miseries, need for newer strategies to combat risks and above all the impact on National Economy affecting the quality of life of the citizenry. Effectively met with expansion of money, though preposterously, at times. Have we lost track ? Is this an abnormality ? Have we been straying with thoughts and actions not in tune with the times and need? Is this what will make our citizens satisfied ? Questions strongly debated by the concerned authorities and the public at large.
What is at threat is probably the “LOSS OF FOCUS” and the “NEED TO PRESERVE” the Rule Books, The sanctum sanctorum of Banking Activity. This is the ‘Second Requirement’.
A preliminary survey by a student revealed that Bank executives are more optimistic about the Nation’s economy as a whole than their own organizations’ prospects. The challenges are twofold : 1. Banks need to raise their visibility and at the same time focus/perform better on Innovation(s) to stay afloat in this competitive environment and to meet the expectations of the aspiring customers. 2. Some banks do well with new products & services ( and innovation ) while some remain contented with nurturing the existing lines of products/services.
The decision to choose the right option will hinge on whether the bank is comfortable being small, medium or big. We have already witnessed a shift from the days of the Mega Public Sector Banks (60s to 80s) to a mix of Big Public and Private Banks (90s to ’00s). The future to me will lie in SMALL/MEDIUM BANKS ( from 2015 onwards ). In the process we will also be witness to a consolidation of some/many of the small/less performing banks. Banks, overall, and specially the Private/Big ones will not find leveraging easier in such an environment.
The above two factors – (a) raising the visibility and reputation of banks; and (b) Growth in small/medium sized banks (with new banks/branches in the offing) – will compel the Banks to FOCUS on the following imminently : 1. Open new door(s) and ideas prudently; 2. Bring fresh experience; 3. Create excitement in the lives of citizens;
These actions can heal the past misdeeds/missteps of any bank caught in the whirl; can stimulate new thinking; and can even surprise the World (India’s pride).
Smaller Banks will be sharply defined and be without any catch; They will display Solemn service; They may not indulge in trade beyond abilities and resources; they can be expected to be highly transparent, specially in their balance sheets; they may better secure and safeguard capital.
How banks will react to the threat of competition as new players tread rapidly ( forcibly and roughly as well !! ) their turf will ultimately depend on how the banks maintain their standards well refining their FOCUS.
The Human Mind treats any new idea the same way body reacts to a new (strange) protein. Banks ! Reject or Embrace it !!!
” Dieu avec nous “
Monday, November 18, 2013 – 8.01 a.m.
Tidbit : ” Victory at all costs; Victory inspite of all terror; Victory, however long and hard the road may be.” – Winston Churchill about British aims in WW II.
Instructive words for the Banks too in these demanding times.
In one of my earlier posts ( on “Banks’ Power and Capabilities on Test-bed” – on 10 Nov 2013) I concluded with the statement that ‘there are some essential requirements to effect the strategies’ and added that I will deal with some separately.
I now present briefly the chief requirement as I see in this critical period of uncertainty and the need for banks to enhance their image and reputation to meet the impending competition effectively.
My proposal in this context is for every Bank to identify an able, sagacious and skilful ‘PROMACHOS’ as Leader acting and conducting the affairs on the principle of synteresis ( operating by fide et fiducia, fide amore, and fide et fortitudine ). How will he conduct himself ? Simple for the serious minded.
Just recall Late Raj Kumar Talwar’s ( Former Chairman of the State Bank of India, and ‘Titan of Bank Management’ ) VISION and ACCOMPLISHMENTS enshrined in total COMMITMENT & VALUES – a study in management for professionals/students/employees/and everyone connected with Banking in India.
1. His singular message : “Honesty is the Best Protection”. 2. His structural Reorganization and Systems overhaul of SBI with Indian experts is a landmark reform that was the harbinger to other banks for two decades and more. 3. MSME ( Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises ) we speak of now had its genesis founded on the excellent PUSH that Talwar gave to Small Scale Industries at a time when BIG Industries were the darlings. 4. His mark of Leadership bore the conviction that “Need-based-Lending” shall be the cardinal principle. 5. He developed Systems for efficient/effective UTILISATION of FUNDS ahead of Tandon Committee’s Recommendations. 6. His decisions based on QUICK & ACCURATE ANALYSIS affording solutions to every problem he faced with is a model in DECISION-MAKING. 7. The freedom/leeway he extended to his subordinates to take decisions EVEN BEFORE RATIFICATION ( provided analytically sound and factually impenetrable ) enthused them to strive for perfection. 8. His principles and practices – insights and foresight – are what we are discepting even now in the context of the Global Financial Crisis albeit without any acknowledgement/reference/mention even superficially.
Sad, his service had to be forcibly cut short just when he was 54 ( in the year 1976 ).
” Every Bank needs a Raj Kumar Talwar today not just for the good of the individual banks, but also for a clean and efficient BANKING SYSTEM.”
I will continue to deal with some other requirements separately in due course of time.
” Dieu avec nous “
Saturday, November 16, 2013 – 8.00 p.m. (IST)
Tidbit : “Banking may well be a career from which no man really recovers.” – John Kenneth Galbraith.
Living with blood sugar is a constant source of stress and anxiety in life. Unbalanced sugar level (Diabetes) has strong effects on Memory; it depletes our energy leaving us Fatigued most of the time; it is likely to cause out of control Cholesterol; it can put Strain on our Hearts besides other complications of Kidney and Liver; and it can dramatically reduce our bodies’ Immunity Response making us susceptible to every little bacteria and virus floating in the environment. Timorous, startling, frightening, execrable – in many ways changing our physical, mental and emotional stability.
Basics : We are running the risk of serious health consequences if we have any THREE of the following :
(a) If BMI (Body Mass Index) is 27 or higher; (b) If HDL (“good”) cholesterol is less than 50 mg/dL for women or less than 40 mg/dL for men; (c) If triglycerides are greater than 150 mg/dL; (d) If blood pressure is higher than 130/85 mm Hg; (e) If fasting blood sugar is greater than 85 mg/dL; and (f) if Hb A1C is higher than 5.5
Returning to our mutton(s) , Diabetes, it is important to know that (a) our brain cells need energy from Glucose to function efficiently; (b) our muscle cells need energy from Glucose for walking, moving, running, playing and a host of other motor activities; (c) our liver cells need energy from Glucose to filter out harmful toxins.
The endocrine gland, Pancreas, controls the level of blood sugar in the body through the hormone “INSULIN” it normally is capable of producing. If Pancreas stops producing Insulin or our cells do not accept Insulin properly, Diabetes sets in. There is too much Glucose in the blood. No energy in the cells. Hence the weakening and complications.
Certain myths are being busted in recent times : Many usually observe, ” It’s the age; It’s the obesity; It’s genetics – that cause Diabetes.” These are actually not true. They may have the capacity to predispose one to sustaining diabetes. But they need not necessarily be the sole cause of diabetes or if you have any one of these it is that ‘you are sure to be afflicted with diabetes’. Some reprieve amidst the panic !
Some facts to help us understand INSULIN better : (a) It is a natural hormone that our body creates and needs. If for some reasons body cannot produce insulin or produces less insulin, then a person develops diabetes and needs to take insulin from external source. (b) Insulin is the ambrosia of the diabetic’s life (Type 1 definitely and Type 2 to some extent) as it functions like a key, unlocking the cells and enabling glucose to enter the cells. In its absence, level of glucose in blood rises and cells begin to starve. (c) Insulin will be prescribed at any stage of diabetes. If HbA1C goes above 7% or 7.5% Insulin is generally a must. With calibrated use of Insulin not just the short-term complications, but even the long-term effects of even poorly controlled diabetes can be arrested. Consult a doctor for dosage. (d) Insulin shots are painless. Due to advances in devices technology, insulin needles are becoming thinner and smaller. Non toxic, non pyrogenic insulin syringes for daily use are made by several pharma devices companies. (e) Insulin does not need refrigeration to preserve/store. They can be kept at room temperature when in use, and even for about 3 to 5 weeks. Refrigerated, unopened bottles are usable until the date of expiration specified.
Insulin is one of the most effective options to have good control over Diabetes. It normalizes blood sugar levels; Protects eyes, kidneys, & heart; It gets rid of body fatigue; it even sharpens memory. Normal levels of Glucose means, health is on track. There are about 35 million diabetics in India. India has the largest population of diabetics in the world. India is a good market for companies engaged in Prescription Drugs, Insulin, and devices associated with it. Some companies of note in this regard are : 1. Eli Lilly & Co.,(Huminsulin) ; 2. Novo Nordisk (Levemir, Novo log Mix 70/30); 3. Signum Biosciences Co., 4. Sanofi Aventis US., U.S.A. 5. Glaxo Smithkline Plc., 6. Ceres Chemical Co., 7. Biocon, India.
Ayurvedic and Herbal cure as alternative natural medicine are becoming very popular these days. Moringa Oleifera dried powder; Natural certified Moringa seeds; Moringa capsules (Cure herbs Co.); Noni Powder, Noni Capsules (Golden Horse Co Ltd.,); Apimanu Diagymna Ayurveda, Apimanu Hyperto San natural herb (from APIMANU SPAIN SL.); Memordica Charantia Extract ( from Xi’on huami Bio Engg Co Ltd.,) are just some to cite.
Chief ingredients of use in the above preparations are : Chromium, Zychomium, Berbarene (a plant alkaloid derived from herbs like Goldenseal), Gymnema Sylvestre ( a rare herb) , Alpha lipoic acid ( a powerful antioxidant) are just a few to cite.
Healthy and productive life are not beyond the reach of Diabetics. On World Diabetes Day (November 14, 2013 ) let’s resolve, ” Control Diabetes before it controls us”.
” Dieu avec nous “
Thursday, November 14, 2013 – 9. 55 p.m. (IST)
Tidbit : Never ignore the “Foursome” if you want to enjoy the “Four Freedoms”.
Foursome : 1. weight Loss, 2. Excessive Thirst, 3. Lack of Energy, 4. Frequent Urination.
Four Freedoms : The four essential freedoms proclaimed by 32nd President ( U.S.A. ) Franklin D Roosevelt in 1941 – 1. Freedom of Speech; 2. Freedom of Worship; 3. Freedom from Want; 4. Freedom from Fear.
Administrators, academicians, and policymakers in recent times lament the fact that the ‘Quality’ of students coming out of the portals of our institutions ( Brand grabbing IITs and IIMs included ) are anything but a prospect of fortune or profit by a will. Serious thoughts are also given to whether it is better to have a finite number of Excellent Institutions than an arbitrarily high number of inferior and pretentious ones seeking to pass for better than they actually are. Much in the same manner when IITs were seeded. A frequently expressed opinion ( though can be strongly contended) is that students of the 60s, 70s, and early 80s fared better.
I, for one, feel that such comparisons are odious if at least for the following reasons : Learning environment of specially the late nineties and the new millennium witnessed enormous changes – technological and social ; Economy of the same period is different – Globalization and Changing Dynamics of trade is just an example ; Web revolution engulfed almost all the sectors of economy; Parents of students are more progressive; Opportunities for growth, aspirations and values have also become different.
During the 60s and 70s students leaving our shores for higher learning and jobs were negligible compared to the present times. We were also importing many essential manufactured items, medicine, high tech, and yes, KNOWLEDGE too. Brand recognition of IITs covered the glory.
Today we see less well known institutions in the limelight doing comparably well if not more than IITs and IIMs. We also witness the stupendous success of industrial belts in 2 Tier/3 Tier cities of Tamilnadu (Coimbatore, Sivakasi, Tiruppur etc); Gujarat; Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka not so much to do with IITs but due to Enterpreneurial ventures of the local community. A glaring feature is that the Student Community in these regions have outgrown, outpaced, and outsmarted their peers in IITs/IIMs.
Statements of hues depending on context and the part of the world they are in emanate from politicians and even corporate chieftain(s) about the glory or otherwise of students of institutions : I recall Dr Sam Pitroda, while being given the go ahead for establishing C-DoT , a milestone event in the Telecom History of India, by the late Prime Minister, Sri Rajiv Gandhi , he laid out certain conditions as requirements : (a) All staff engineers will be young graduates and he will have the leeway and autonomy to choose them; (b) No C-DoT employee, under any circumstance, will deal with the Govt Bureaucracy; and (c) All matters of initiatives and progress (procedures) will have to go through Sam Pitroda and he will be the one accountable for the functioning. Well, the game changer that C-DoT turned out to be in our Telecom revolution needs no elaboration. But, the point to note and the instructive experience afforded can not be missed : Sam Pitroda recruited Young Graduates and he knew well that they needed to be shielded from the ramblings and caprices of Indian Politics. Rajiv Gandhi stood by Sam Pitroda as much as Sam Pitroda stood by Rajiv Gandhi. Exemplary leadership by the Polity and execution by the Chieftainry in our GROWTH FIRMAMENT. This was also the harbinger to the spirit of competition among the institutions today to excel in qualities displayed by the presumed titans of those days. A new order had been set.
The institutions of higher learning in India (specially the less well known but talented) have become the ‘gateway’ to the ambitious masses to rise in economic and social status. The onus is also on them to fulfill the ambitions of these people. Before the arrival of the INTERNET, owing to inadequate opportunities to travel abroad, the faculty ( for that matter, the Indian scientists also) and research students were terribly out of sync with the rest of the world in terms of access to latest information and availability of quality infrastructure. Research offers Global presence and acclaim. International collaborations also play a key role in development today. It is only a question of time before it becomes an intrinsic part of academics in all institutions. It can only be better now. The institutions, however, have quite a distance to travel in terms of research. It may be of interest to note here the partnership framed by three Universities – New York Univ, The Univ of Washington and the univ of California, Berkeley – with a new five year project on BIG DATA SCIENCE supported by funding from the Moore Foundation & Sloan Foundation ($37.8 million) being announced TODAY in Washington at an event organized by the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy highlighting initiatives taken by Govt,industry and academia to advance “data-driven” scientific discovery & Tech progress.
To succeed, these institutions have to REPOSITION themselves as a Research-University in which Post-graduate Education & Research will become as momentous and pompous as Undergraduate Education. The quality of students will eventually surpass the ordinary and attain pre-eminence. This is my only edifying prescription to raise the quality and value of Students in Institutions.
” Dieu avec nous “
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 – 11. 05 p.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” The more you read, the more you know;
The more you know, the more you forget;
The more you forget, the less you know;
The less you know, the less you forget;
The less you forget, the more you know.”
Today’s slowdown in our economy has compelled the industry (specially the manufacturing sector) to strive hard to sustain growth prospects with minimum disruption. Broadly the twin challenges are : (a) alleviation of sufferings people; (b) enhancement of prosperity to all communities of our society. I present below a snapshot of the challenge with a ‘novel methodology’ to adopt for realizing the objectives.
Simply for the general weal, industry needs to accelerate the following obvious measures first : “Reduce cost; Improve productivity; Enhance operational efficiencies; and maintain what I term and often fascinatingly call ( since the late eighties in all my tutorial discourses ) ‘PSYCHOLOGICAL QUIETUDE’ amidst growing tensions of uncertainty.” What is more, I also see the “REPUTATION” of any organization holding the key to solving many of the problems they face today, more than ever before.
To meet the challenges effectively & positively, management strategies need to be redesigned with a flavor of sophistication and high internal & external coordination. It is in this context I present this novel technique for consideration by all players. ‘Analysis of failure Effects’ and ‘Event Impact’ as the key management technique. It will help to create a set of strategies for different outcomes arising out of preliminary applications. The process involves eliciting responses to simple questions as “What if .. ..?” If the answer is ‘yes’ , the investigator will ponder over details; and if the answer is ‘no’ he will pass on to the next item on the agenda. Consider the example of an internal supplier of an auto manufacturer exposed to industrial, organizational, and government customers. Directions of Credit; market share; new product development; tax rates; government stimulus funding & prices are some key parameters in this exercise. One can start applying the question ‘ What if market share falls ?’ and elicit the answer from data available or directly from the chief handling the function. The entire procedure is not detailed in this brief outline here. The technique, however, is beneficial.
While the application in normal circumstances is relatively foolproof, it calls for a high degree of circumspection and analysis in the prevailing uncertain environment. Also, there is a need for marked depth in information gathering since exploration possibilities becomes complex in the present volatile/uncertain situation. Being focused on the long-term impact without sacrificing short-term interests is a balancing act critical to fruitful evaluation. While the Failure Effects Analysis can clearly point to the key indicators suggesting the alternatives, the Events Impact Analysis will permit the assessment of impact in larger terms. The ultimate result will be the satisfaction of designing a set of tools to withstand the crisis rather than merely attempting to predict it. Setting apart the progressive companies from the less progressive ones, it is imperative to maintain “REPUTATION” of organizations. This is quite significant, particularly when regulators; stakeholders; & more importantly the public exercise greater scrutiny of organizations now. Customers’ “trust” manifests itself in the form of reputation driving the success and profitability of any business.
Unsealing the results of investigations through an effective and responsible media will ensure an extended reach reliable to the public without any skewed tilt to the findings. The result will be trust build-up and self confidence with more than proportionate growth of business and the economy as a whole. “PSYCHOLOGICAL QUIETUDE” with no tension(s) , conflict, or apprehensions will be a big positive among the employees giving a boost to the levels of motivation and initiative.
There are certain essentials needed to integrate various components in this design scenario presented here. I will try to set these out separately in due course of time.
” Dieu avec nous “
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 – 10.50 p.m. (IST)
Tidbit : I learnt from my experience that It is easier to go from economy to extravagance, It is hard to go from extravagance to economy.
Background : Teaching and Learning has witnessed a massive transformation where the faculty now don the role of a mere “FACILITATOR” and not the Lecturer/Professor in the traditional mold. It is highly participative now with students contributing to every topic substantially in the class room – in application, innovation and future trends. In funda probably the role of teacher still stands reasonably firm. This, however, is not to generalize and universalize the scenario. Several factors are making this transformation a reality and a boon.
My Notion; my mind; and my view here in brief :
1. Sourcing, where teachers played a dominant role has been reduced to almost nil with the onslaught of web and networking technologies.
2. Ideation, again, is not the sole preserve of the teacher now.
3. Methodology, analysis and interpretation have also been aided by “Open Tools” easily accessible to anyone at the click of a mouse. Students discuss, argue, and learn while watching MTV or while sipping Coffee in the Cafe – which scenario when I predicted in the late-seventies and early-eighties evoked laughter and derision.
These are real now and in no way impede the learning process. Faculty ‘enabling’ within the boundaries of shifting methodologies is what I term the “altered roles”. The point to note is that “teaching is not less attractive but involves a role shift requiring adaptation and when that happens it is an enjoyable experience (less burdensome ) for both the teacher and the learner today.
What today’s faculty need to do is to enrich this experience by “research inputs” ( local, regional, national, international; gathered and self-conducted ); Case studies written; Best practices collected; and new ways of participative contribution – debates, presentation, short problem solving exercises and so on. The industry internment is the Laboratory Experiment making practical gains. Many others can be reasoned upon a thought and added.
Many Institutions promote independent initiatives ( once the overtopping province of IITs and IIMs ) by the faculty in so far as involvement in a variety of assignments – fund raising for the Institute with contribution and recognition for self, e.g., Consulting, Executive Development Programs, Workshops, Short-term Courses to cite just a few. Hence, the oft quoted reason that ‘financial package’ for the faculty is a constraint in maintaining standards does not hold water.
For years ( or is it decades ? ) IIT and IIM faculty have been insulated from competition within the country; and even hailed as demi-gods. Perhaps, rightly for a variety of reasons which today evoke discussion(s) and sometimes stokes contentious debates. How many top ranking students of IITs pursue doctorate degrees in India or join as faculty here? – a question posed by many in different discussions. Is joining multinationals/moving abroad a ‘recherche’ while joining as faculty or taking up a job here ‘en dernier ressort’ ? Faculty from small players today exhibit remarkable intellectual prowess in National and International Forum with ease and elan. This has been possible mainly due to the advent of ‘Electronic Technologies’ and ‘Smart Partnering’ activities. With adequate funds from the Government / other funding agencies and better infrastructure promoting research, their performance and progress will see an upside. That will be sonse for learning initiatives and an answer to our plaguesome malaise worrying the academic administrators and policymakers.
With changing times one needs extreme degree of adaptation to the good and not-so-good of every initiative. Faculty, Students, Parents, Administrators, Support staff included with no stakeholder remaining excluded.
” Dieu avec nous “
Monday, November 11, 2013 – 9.55 p.m (IST)
Tidbit : Years teach more than Books. I have experienced it to the full.
Need to cut
Soon we will see a mushrooming growth of banks in India thanks to the proposal paving the way for New Banks ( approval likely in January 2014 ) and New branches by the existing players in this sector. Banks are already buckling down to face the competition. It is strategy time for them. It is also time for a sneak peek at the challenges facing the banks and the path they need to tread wisely. Here, I lay a short map on the possible course to follow and take :
Banks need to show profits while at the same time lending judiciously to growing sectors of economy to be able to stand on their own feet. Defensive and Offensive combat actions call for a creative and aggressive set of strategies to encourage growth promoting the reform trajectory to move forward unhindered.
With the monetary ( and fiscal to a lesser degree) initiatives fairly and firmly entrenched in the system, banks today are facing the daunting task of lowering the lending rates in an effort to promote growth and investment. A not so uncommon scenario is the skepticism and reluctance of managers to the lending initiative in general combined with a sense of ‘aboulia’ in making the right choice of borrowers. Compounding the task is their inability to unwind the nasty NPAs in the woodshed. It requires a bold and a newfangled approach to regain confidence in the present critical time and engage aggressively in stepping up the efforts.
For this to be realized effectively it is prudent to adopt a two-pronged approach as follows : (a) an aggressive promotion of Small & Medium Industries; and (b) a mild promotion of Big industries/sectors. My logic for this is clear. In the present circumstances of accelerated tech development and adoption plus the competitiveness due to the opening of more banks/branches, the need to adapt for survival and growth/prosperity is paramount.
A characteristic enabling them to be adept at this is their “responsiveness”. Small and Medium organizations can adapt better to the prevailing credit situation nimbly. They can even trim their manpower with little conflict and tension. They can also achieve growth in a relatively short period. It is easier to grow from 1000 to 1100 ( an increase of 10%) than from 1 crore to 1.1 crore (again an increase of 10%); which means for the big players to grow to the same size as small players, the numbers will have to be in crores. The comparison is in absolute terms, a simple arithmatic for the discerning.
Given the fast tech absorption-cum-training opportunities and progress through selective support (available easily now through software packages etc.,) small and medium organizations can even outpace others by a good margin. Big players need not always be the smartest and strongest eternally. With the impending stringent regulations and keen oversight, banks have their tasks cut out clearly, and hence need to judiciously exercise the above options with confidence. The success possibility is plain commonsense and not empirical. If, say, 7 or 8 out of 10 individuals buy a particular brand of car; if 7 or 8 out of 10 individuals witness a particular movie; if, say, 7 or 8 out of 10 parents admit their wards in a particular school; if, say, 7 or 8 out of 10 individuals like a type of music – all within a strata of society, then it becomes a NORM and becomes the right thing to do. Extending this logic, if, say, 7 or 8 out of 10 banks begin disbursing loans to a specific sector, then that will become the norm and others will follow suit. This can simply boost the investment, increase production and employment. Stringent observation of credit worthiness and performance as yardsticks for allocation of funding shall not be sacrificed, however.
When times and rules of the game change drastically, as I foresee for the near future, ( with new banks opening ) it is imperative that all players, small or big, stay in the game; keep alert; and adapt themselves to the new order. ‘Cut your coat according to your cloth’ is the mantra for Banks. This will impact growth positively and contribute to our economy.
There are some essential requirements to effect this strategy and I will explore them separately in due course.
“Dieu avec nous”
Sunday, November 10, 2013 – 9.00 a.m. (IST)
Tidbits : “There is one thing about Life : Whether you are rich or poor, it’s always good to have plenty of money in the Bank.”
Try this on your banker sometime : Put 50 Rs or $ in the bank and make with drawls as below:
Draw out 20, Leaving 30
Draw out 15, Leaving 15
Draw out 9. Leaving 6
Draw out 6, Leaving 0
Total 50, Total 51
What is clear to our mind : 1. Education is now a SERVICE sector activity; Students are the PURCHASERS; and Institutions/universities are the PROVIDERS. 2. Technological, Sociological, Economical and Governmental forces influence Education. 3. Our National Growth and Competitiveness is inextricably tied to the attributes, character and excellence of Higher Education in particular.
I now want to piece together my thoughts succinctly and pithily on three issues that evoke a lot of discussion among educationists and trainers in recent times.
1. A common lament among the recruiters ( engaged in supply side talent for industry ) is that a significantly large proportion of graduates coming from the portals of many institutions do not make even the pass grade. Quality of training in institutions has taken a back seat. Even the process of identifying the lacunae and remedying the situation is not being given a serious thought. Hence the mismatch/gap between what is needed and what is available is appalling. I just pen my first thoughts and reasons I visualize for this malady in education : Could these be the possible causes ?
(a) Unchecked proliferation of institutions with ill-designed promotion of education in the garb of affording opportunities to virtually everyone; (b) Lack of oversight and extended leeway to the institutions without a thorough, due and proper assessment of the efficacy of them vis-a-vis the requirement; (c) Lack of Quality Faculty combined with a deliberate insouciance to SELECT WHEN RIGHT CANDIDATES PROSPECT THEIR CHANCES & OFFER THEIR SERVICES in full earnest and desire; (d) Suppression of ‘Faculty Freedom to Engage in Newfangled areas’ out of deeply ingrained fear(s) of possibly getting outsmarted, further spawning unhealthy competition; (e) Least emphasis on ‘Productivity, Quality & Reliability’ (PQR) of pedagogic accomplishments/achievements leading to demoralization of even the well intended personnel; (f) System encouraging students to be trained more to be “slaves of routine” than to “demonstrate skills and competence.” ; and (g) Failure/Inability to take students out into the ‘real world’ through a planned set of activities as appropriate to the discipline.
These are just some thoughts (right or wrong – time will judge); though not detailed and exhaustive.
2. Ranking of institutions by several agencies periodically has been the norm in the last decade specially. Some take pride in achieving good rankings; Some decide to strive hard to make the cut, the next time; Some simply tend to ignore and keep the status quo remain firm; Some discuss and discept elaborately and disregard the rankings that the parameters considered are not valid; Some reject the rankings outright contemptuously. Every hue and shade is visible to all and sundry. Of particular concern to the educational administrators is the very low number of institutions proportionate to the available in the country that make or would make the Global 100/Global 200/ Global 500 and the like. My thoughts run in an unconventional mode and pace :
Just as Globalization is making the geographic boundaries of Nations vanish (in terms of trade, economy, exchange, and whatever ) , Education & Training in this new age obfuscates the distinction between institutions, fashioning/rendering the ranking A SIMPLE MARKETING EXERCISE.
Today we say ‘the schoolmaster is abroad’ implying the education has spread far and wide.
Highly creative and innovative products & services today originate from less well known places and institutions. Flexitime, Performance recognition, Offering a healthy work environment, in an attempt to motivate students and associates have contributed to the enhancement of skills and competency. Rules of the game are changing dramatically in the field of Education & Training. Every institute is now boasting of innovative methods to take students out in to the ‘real world’ and the term universal(ity) is losing its sheen. ‘Specificity’ is becoming the order of the day, be it in terms of disciplines, courses, approaches, degrees, or institutions. And with it the parameters of evaluation are also increasing disproportionately making the very ranking a LESS IDEAL or LESS PERFECT way of comparison/assessment.
Shall we not go beyond ranking on a set of archaic (I do not mean to be harsh) elements and rather focus on “Economic Social and Quantitative improvement of Society/Nation” as a single yardstick in the process of evaluation of Educational Institutions ?
3. Human Relations (HR) is generally viewed as an industry need, position, and function. And HR is also considered to be a noiseless, invisible, flavorless task of taciturnity for decades earlier. The key importance of HR generally gets lost in the milieu of technology, production, marketing etc little realizing that HR imbibes the best from each one of these for its up gradation, and confers the very functions of Tech, Production, Marketing their Status and Rank of importance that they envisage and enjoy. The more the advances in technology, the more the value of HR. Same is true for education & training too. Educational institutions should embark on creating special HR positions (now being handled by the administrators mostly) from the ground floor up. And HR is transforming rapidly too. This is how I see :
We know Ninjas strike and get out without being seen. That is what HR has been doing for long. They should avoid operating in “Stealthy Ninjas”. They should also shed their diffidence to get their ideas work and even become popular with employees/associates. Nothing wrong if one wants to be popular by contributing constructively. It should be hailed and rewarded. HR should be “leading the change” and “taking the risks” – a transformational responsibility in times of uncertainty specially. HR represents the entire people in the institution – the REAL ENGINE of DIFFERENTIATION. This needs to be indoctrinated, formally and informally through every action. Indoctrination, Yes. Each day that HR stays stealthy is another day our people are hidden from peers/seniors/top brass; and another day they are not seen as valuable. Even HR heads sadly fail to understand this reality and that drives them to do and react the way they are doing ( just plain, ornery, handling run of the mill tasks ) now. They need to be showy, noisy, even obtrusive without being offensive in order for them to assert their locus standi.
We need HR positions specially in Educational and Training Institutions to deal with the varied and wide spectrum of customers as Students, Parents, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, the community around, and the like.
Hail the portals of the Institutions engaged in ‘Eradicator of Ignorance; Booster of Self Confidence.”
” Dieu avec nous “
Saturday, November 9, 2013. 7.45 a.m. (IST)
Tidbit : “Take care of Your Troops and train them well; All Jobs will get Done.” ( Leadership Mantra )