What is your dream?


We attend numerous meetings to figure out a vision/ mission statement for the organisation we work. Have we ever thought what is our personal vision?

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“Nishkam Karma”, action without attachment


The concept of “Nishkama Karma”, action without attachment to both action/work and fruits expected there after, as mentioned in Hindu holy book Bhagwad Gita, can solve many of the management problems and can confuse few too.
One of the most popular saying of Bhagwad Gita is always misunderstood. The following stanza is always misunderstood as ” Do your work/duty without expecting any fruit/result”. Actually it is slightly different and can be explained with some more concepts mentioned in the very beginning lessons of Bhagwad Gita. I have interpreted in some different ways and tried to think it from the management perspective.
The Gita limits our domain of influence to our “Karma” only and not thereafter (ref; chapter 2, 47). So results of “Karma” are not in our hand. But if the definition of word “Karma” is analyzed closely it will confuse the above interpretation. Karma is not merely work but it is work for duty. Karma is not only activity but also it is activity with a positive purpose. When there is duty or activity with a purpose, Karma becomes Dharma. “Dharma” can be correlated with the ultimate goal of the life. So, though you should not be instrumental in making your actions bear fruit (chapter 2, 47), you may design your actions for your ultimate goal, the “Dharma”. When we talk about fruits, it is actually outcomes of your sequence of actions in the way to ultimate goal. Good or bad, there should not be any attachment to these outcomes. And so these outcomes should not divert you from your ultimate goal.
What are the benefits of detachment from fruits? As per the Gita, in advance stage of attaining yoga, there should be detachment from “Karma” too. This also have very interesting interpretation but I will try to discuss it in some other post. All these attachments creates aggression, fear and anger. Carrying forward from the conclusion in above paragraph, aggression, fear and anger have all the potential to divert you from your ultimate goal by changing your course of actions in search of pleasurable fruits. So to make your goal and your actions intact we must have stable mind. The Gita defines it as “Samatva”, evenness of mind. (chapter 2, 48).
From management perspective, replace Karma with strategy and Dharma or ultimate goal with vision or mission of the organization and all the above interpretations will hold true.
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References from Gita
Chapter2,47; Your right is to work only and never to fruit thereof. Be not instrumental in making your actions bear fruit, nor let your attachment be to inaction.
Chapter2, 48; “Samatva”, evenness of mind is called “Yoga”.
Chapter2, 56; The sage, whose mind remains unperturbed amid sorrows, whose thirst for pleasures has altogether disappeared, and who is free from passion, fear and anger, is called stable of mind.
Chapter2,57; He who is unattached to everything, and when meeting with good and evil, neither rejoices nor recoils, his mind is stable.

Brand Managers! What are you building, a category or a brand?


One distribution channel is setting up the rules of game in today’s environment is multi franchise organized retail. Now a days the only distribution channel is prominent for the most of the consumer durable and FMCG product is organized retail. This multi franchise model is redefining challenges of branding and product management.
The older brand building activities now become category building activity. For example, imagine a manufacturer of refrigerator who successfully builds a brand and in turn customers turn up to the retail store. But inside the store, story is different. The need trigger or decision to have a refrigerator could have been augmented by the said manufacturer, but inside the store customer is open to buy any brand. For a walk in customer inside a store there are lot of variables available to take a purchase decision. It may or may not be dependent on the branding of the company which prompted the customer to consider the product.
This case implies that the older way of advertising and branding are basically building more of a category than a brand. At this point positioning of product plays a key role. The brand managers should think of which gap or problem they are solving by making a positioning of a product. Because a slight differentiation if exploited properly could play a major role in making purchase decision. These gaps or points of differentiation are available everywhere. It could be price point, product features, point of entry in customer home, geography, channel or even variables like buying need of customer, perceived value of product by the customers etc.
While positioning a product one should be very clear on competitive strategy. As in multi franchise sales network a wrong strategy will give opportunity to competition to win and set the direction of game. It’s a zero sum game. Its like a game of cards where you keep guessing of available cards with the opponents. You check your strong and weak cards along with setting trump card. You make a plan with a sequence of moves. And if your sequence of moves are ideal you can even win with your weaker cards, because you are setting the direction and opponents have to react to your move. But there is one flaw. The whole strategy is based on few real things ( strong and weak cards, trump etc) and more guess work like who are the opponents having cards stronger than your weaker cards. And an assumption that all the best cards are not in one opponents basket. So it is risky. And so it is challenging. When you put a wrong move someone else wins and then he starts setting directions to the game. Since guess work and risk are still on the table, you’ll have to wait for next opportunity to win a move and take the commands of the game back in your folds. Strong and weak cards can be replaced by competitive strengths and weaknesses of any organization.