Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Product Design: You can not escape, my love.

Automobile in India is now moving (or has already moved if I am late) from one being part of basic needs onto a luxury for the middle class. And when anything becomes a luxury, it doesn't just have to fulfil the basic requirements of that product (like for an automobile, to ferry people around) but have to satisfy the ego or even shoot up the status (in his or her own mind) of the owner. So for an automobile product to be bought it has to satisfy many criteria. And the top most of them would be the looks or the design of the product.

If we observe the automobile products launched in India over last decade, by having only a (and first) look at the product you can easily tell whether the product is going to be successful or not. Or you can even write obituary of the product at first look if looks are not very striking. In my mind I wrote the same for three Suzuki two wheeler products and two Honda products (Unicorn and Shine). In retrospect, I think I am fairly correct (no braggin or boasting) on those counts as these launches have not been so successful for their respective companies.

Today when a consumer in India (Indian consumer is mostly going to be a young person) buys a product he (mostly the automobile buyer is "definitely male") sees the look of the product as the most important thing. Yamaha has not been able to make any presence in Indian two wheeler market simply because none (except the latest launch FZ. Oooh! that's the best bike in India so far by looks) of their product have been worth looking at. The same could be the case of Suzuki two wheeler as well, since all three products launched so far are not at all good at design. Yamaha and Suzuki are well known world over for their superb two-wheeler technology still they are failing in Indian market. I am sure the only reason is that they do not have great product designers in their studios. Superb technology only gets appreciation when it's presented in best designed box. Even Honda is not able to make much of an impact in two wheeler because of the same reason. Bajaj would not be successful or worthy competition to Hero Honda until they hire some top-notch designers. Right now their products looks like underfed dogs or foxes. Pulsar had been successful mainly, because the category which it sells in, did not have worthy competition so far. By the way now Pulsar design has improved considerably but still not the best and has a long way to go. In this category the two new entrants TVS Apache and Yamaha FZ are going to be the scorching hot products, if they have good enough technology.

Obviously when a product's design is great second most important thing should be the underlying technology. Hero Honda has got these two things right in the same order in most of their products and we can see the results.

Same could be said of the passenger car market as well. Unknown (at start) Hyundai is successful in Indian market whereas the mighty GM and Ford are still struggling here for precisely the same reason.

I always wonder why can the management of Yamaha, Suzuki, Bajaj etc not see this point? A business magazine "Businessworld" (oooh, my favourite) carried a cover story on product design Check Spellingcouple of years back but probably CEOs of these above companies did not read that issue and paying price now. Had they paid Rs 5 for that issue they would have made a few thousand crores for their companies and we Indian consumers would have had even superior product marquees to choose from.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Being Responsible at every time: How aware are we?

Today I was on my way to office (in Hyderabad India), I was driving on a stretch of the road which is very wide road (6 lanes) and is normally never congested (surprise! isn't it?). You always get smooth drive through here but today there was a huge unbelievable pile-up of the traffic and traffic was moving very slow, at snail's pace. I was stunned (yes, I really was!) by seeing traffic-jam at this road. I went on and on and finally at one point road became clear as it always was. When I looked for the reason for this traffic pile-up I could not help shake my head in disgust.
The reason for the jam was that people were moving slow even though there was clear way. And why there were moving slow? The reason was that there was a minor accident on the other side of the road divider and people were slowing deliberately to see the accident site. This caused accumulation of slow moving vehicles and ultimate traffic congestion.
So what can we learn here from this incidence. People who wanted to know or understand the accident scene were (un)knowingly causing others problem by blocking their way. People may be in hurry to make it to an urgent customer meeting, or to attend an interview, both of which are very critical in current situations and are life-or-death situations. So some were being irresponsible unknowingly which could cost someone else very dearly.
So we should always be aware of our actions, be it in traffic or at anywhere in public or private place. Sometimes unintentionally, a trifle act or ours could prove very serious for others. If we try to learn be responsible in such small ways and become aware of the consequences of our little actions or gestures, over time we could become compassionate which is one of very essential quality of a leader.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Career Confusion: Loyalty vs. Money

People working in IT service industry are always confused about their career. They are always in dilemma whether to stay put in the same company to move up on the ladder and forgo the chances of more money outside or opt for job offer from another company for more money and a higher position. There are always confusion, one have to spend long time on bench sometimes even around year doing almost nothing. This sometimes frustrate guys (smarter guys make use of this time to hone their hobbies, interests).
Then comes the time when recession starts and everyone including the loyalist start fearing about their job. Here probably everyone has the risks of loosing his or her job.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Choosing a career: Based on strength?

I was recently reading a book on Strength Finder2.0 by Gallop. This says that you have to first find your correct and exact strengths and then choose a career or profession accordingly. If you do not do so and choose any career, you may not achieve true success in life and cannot do justice to your chosed profession. I do not agree with this (at all). The Gallop findings may be true for western countries, but not in Indian context.
What I observed in Indian context is that normally a person follows his parental profession. Be it business, profession (medical, law or anything ) or anything else. And the second generation make it good in their parental profession, sometimes even better. Take examples of Ambani brothers, so many generations of politicians, innumerable small businessmen, people in Bollywood, just to give a few examples. I have also observed some families where there is good environment in home about education or spirituality or religion, the kids of such households grow up to be stronger in those area. This confirms that what kind of environment kids get at home and how serious they take their chosen area,they would become successful in that area.
In Indian middle class, students almost always choose their career options based on either family members suggestions/insistence or influences by peer group's choices. Hardly anyone has any idea as to what he or she really likes, barring a few exceptions. And even in such situations people turn out to be quite successful in their career. I feel except for few areas like art (painting, music, etc), or research when you really have to be passionate all other areas could be mastered by interest and hard work (obviously smart work).
I do not claim to be a researcher but I can claim to be a good observer in the above area. Please leave your comments and views on the topic.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Books One should read

Recently I have added one more person to the list of my role models (I am not going to disclose all), or the people whom I like to follow. This person is Rajesh Setty. I found his book selection for reading match exactly to my interest. So I am putting a link to his list here on my blog.
Two reason for this:
1. so that I can refer as and when I wish
2. if someone bump into my mind he can also view the list.
I have always wondered what books should one read and who to tell what to read and what not to as there is huge information flood (books, journals, blogs, Internet). I thanks Rajesh for putting his list on Internet.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Best Way to layoff employees

Media is flooded with reports about the imminent layoffs at Satyam and how management of TechMahindra and Satyam are planning to layoff 5000/10000/18000 employees from Satyam, depending upon who is the source of news or which media is publishing the news. Whether there has been any layoff or not at Satyam, at least one thing has been constant for several month is that there are imminent layoffs. What this has done is created fear in the minds of Satyam employees. And they have started to look for jobs outside on their own. Employees, who were not very serious to change job at this time, are now seriously in the market. The constant news of layoff have made these employees creative enough to find ways to get new jobs at any cost.
How this has helped the management at Satyam is that without them having to layoff employees company's employee strengh has come down significantly. What else would managment ask for when their goal is being achieved without them having to worry about consequences of laying off.
I wonder if the constant media coverage of layoff was a well tought out strategy of management. Whatever it was it was good. As neither employees had to go through the anogy of being laidoff not management had to draw any flak.