Movie Review : Hampi

Published November 20, 2017 by vishalvkale

I review only the best movies; the next one that qualifies is Hampi. Some people told me Hampi was a movie. Some told me it was a great movie. Some told me it was a travelogue. Some told me it was a sweet movie. Well, all the above were wrong; all the above were right – and all the above did not, in my opinion, come even close to what Hampi is. It was a relatively short movie – if you can call it that; which I don’t. It was over in 1 hour and some 40-odd minutes tops. It wasn’t a moving movie; it wasn’t a deep movie; it didn’t deal with esoteric subjects. It also isn’t a movie that will appeal to everyone, that is also equally true. You need, in my opinion, a particular kind of emotional / artistic / simple outlook in your mind to truly connect.


हंपी एक नुसतं चित्रपट नसून एका उत्कृष्ट कवी ची कल्पना असावी; एका विलक्षण चित्रकाराचे चित्र असावे. हिला  एका महान कवी ची कविता जरी म्हंटलं तरी चालेल. ह्या चित्रपटाची सर्वात मोठी गोषट तर हि आहे कि ह्याच्यात एक एक फ्रेम, प्रत्येक सीन, प्रत्येक क्षण फार विचार करून ठेवलेला आहे. पात्रांनी म्हंटलेली एक एक वाक्य त्यांनी म्हंटलेले एक एक शब्द खूप विचार करून ठेवले गेले; एवढे जर पुरत नसेल तर हे पण खरे कि ह्या चित्रपटात शांतता चा वापर सुद्धा खूपच उल्लेखनीय आहे. फक्त हेच नाही – संगीत आणि पार्षव संगीत, म्हणजे बॅकग्राऊंड स्कॉर व गाणी सुद्धा चित्रपटाशी, संपूर्ण वातावरणाशी आणि इतक्या सोप्या आणि सरळ रीती नि मिळतात आणि एकजीव होतात कि अगदी तर्क संगत व स्वाभाविक वाटतात


This is a labour of love; it is a poem, it is a lyrical story of a maestro author, a signature painting of a top painter, it is a masterpiece of artistic creation with each and every cinematic sub-item in perfect consonance with the beauty of the story and the script. If there is perfection anywhere – it is here, it is here, it is here – in this stupendous creation of love, harmony, art, entertainment, poetry, prose, painting, canvas all rolled into one.


THE STORY
The story, per se, is simple – it is a story of a disillusioned daughter, whose parents are going through a divorce. She decides to get away from it all, and plans a holiday to Hampi {a tourist destination of breathtaking natural beauty in Southern India} with her close friend. The friend cannot make it and cancels – so she lands up alone, and runs into a co-resident in the hotel she stays at. The story is of her experiences in Hampi, with the taxi {auto} driver, a handicrafts-woman, a sadhu; and most of all, for the large part, her continuous banter with Kabir, the guy who stays at the hotel. Until that is the other lady, the best friend, arrives… no, don’t jump to conclusions, please. Nothing like that. But it does cause a bit of a change in the scenario. Saying anything else will be a spoiler!
THE ANALYSIS
As I observed earlier, a story is one thing, the script quite another. The difference, the magic is in the script and screenplay, which weaves in a scenic tour of the magnificent ancient township of Hampi, effortlessly co-creates a story of ethereal visual appeal that will transfix you with its awesome cinematography, which is one of the biggest pluses of the movie. At no point does the slow pace of the story get to you, such is the hypnotic beauty on screen!
This is a movie in which every word has been chosen and placed with great care and attention; every frame has been tastefully placed almost – with great love; every note of every musical score has been crafted to gel into the entire scenario, and blend in effortlessly. Even the silences interspersed throughout the movie are chosen with great care, passion and add to the story, the overall hypnotic transcendental magic and the beauty of the overall product. This is a true Gem in every sense of the word. Loaded with memorable dialogues, even more memorable silences, heart-warming music and background score, and superlative cinematography. What more can you want?
What more can you want, you and I say? The stunning, natural and effervescent performances by the entire cast; Lalit Prabhakar, whose talent we saw earlier in Chi V Chi Sau Ka; Sonali Kulkarni – who needs no introduction; and the supporting cast – all played their part to the best of their considerable talents. Everyone has a strong, scriptwriter-backed role; but they have put in the performance of their lives. Sonali as Isha is a revelation in this excellent role; Lalit as Kabir is, as usual, tops. They carry the story on their shoulders, ably supported by Priyadarshan Jadhav and Prajakta Mali.
Reviewer after professional reviewer has stated about the absence of a story, of the lack of a coherent narrative; they are flat wrong, period.  It once again shows that the so-called professional reviewers are totally out of touch with audience tastes. While the professionals rate in 2.5 stars, the audience ratings are above 3.5. That shows the divergence in audience and the professionals. The film has a lovely, deep story – one that has to be understood by an emotionally awakened intelligent person.

It is a story told through sparse words, words pregnant with meaning; through soulful music, through penetrating and telling silence, and their combination which together craft a story of the conversion of one person – Isha, from a negative, slightly depressed, slightly angry element into a vivacious soft person. One can easily see, at the end, that this is the real Isha and that the depression was a temporary trauma brought by a painful divorce of her parents.  It has a moving, mesmerizing story; that the professionals weren’t able to fathom it shows they need to understand a real artistic creation, not just go through the motions of watching it! All in all, rated 5 stars. Note that I only review the best of the best Movies; and it has qualified for my blog…

Reflections on Childhood

Published November 13, 2017 by vishalvkale

Childhood memories are very strong and potent – and not easy to forget; for they form the strongest associations in our mind, and are the strongest elements in our personality makeup. I am no different from the norm; and harbor a series of strong memories both good, bad as well as ugly. I can truthfully state that these were central to me becoming what I am today. While I bear no grudge today for the bad / ugly, it is important to point out that these memories remain etched the strongest. As to the good, I can honestly state that I remember them – almost as strongly
THE BAD & THE UGLY
Lets get this out of the way. My memories of my childhood, on the negative side, in this are of one thing, and one thing only. Being bullied, brutally bullied by self-styled Rambos, so-called machos who thought the world of themselves, and cared little for the feelings of others. The bullying was constant – not just of me – but of other students like me. I haven’t forgotten; neither will I ever forget. But that hasn’t affected my adult relationships; I now have a very strong bond with one such former bully.
I remember talking to one girl in the class – this happened twice in two schools. Now these were innocent discussions between two students around class and studies only. But I remember with clarity being razzed for it all year in both schools. I could not then understand, nor do I fathom now – what is the whole issue if a boy talks Physics notes with a Girl, or Math problems with a girl? Why does this world look at everything from a coloured, tinted and biased lens? Where did these kids pick up such dirty thoughts from – I wonder? I certainly didn’t think it otherwise if people from one sex had an innocent chat with people of the other sex – and I still don’t, by the way!
If you start assuming or even teasing boys just cause they talk to any girl, you are being stupid, and showing your own mentality. It is eminently feasible for a man and a woman to have a positive healthy and friendly relationship. I am now 40+, but still find this behaviour ridiculous. But that is the way our Indian Society is… is the lesson I learnt from it. This is what re-inforces societal stereotypes & mores. It also has long-term impact on the mental process of an individual – not just of the bullied person – but more so of the bully, who is further emboldened by his thoughtless words and deeds.
I recall an incident in school, which taught me the real face of humanity in all its magnificent ugliness. Two incidents, rather. The first was I had falled unconscious due to illness, and I noted – I still recall the intense feeling – that not one person from my so-called close friends came to help. The classmates who did help, remained close to me till we parted. That taught me the art of judging the real true friend. Another incident I recall was the inhuman act of setting bees into a class when girls and a few simple boys were present inside – some of the bullies in our class would do it regularly. That shows us the sick mentality of bullies, and what sickening abnormal amorality they called fun. I remember thinking of them as being mentally unstable and sick idiots – with crystal clarity.
THE GOOD
The good, I can write pages and pages on; that will, however, be for my son’s eyes only, as I hand him over my diary of personal notes when I am no more. There isn’t anything a person can learn from the good as much as from the bad. And who to pick out and who to leave in a long list? But even in all these, I must mention the one who is no more, as per information available to me – Ashok. He was my first real friend, Ashok taught me what friendship really is. No one before him connected; not that he wouldn’t tease me, or I him – but he connected, despite lying to me!
There is a fine line between fun and harassment – he knew that line well. That taught me a lot; it is a lesson I still draw inspiration from – there is a fine line between fun/motivation/drive/follow-up & harassment. And when Gunjan Bisaria told me of his demise – I cried, despite not having met or heard of him for 30 years… that is true friendship. To the first friend in my life,  first friend – Thanks, Ashok!
CONCLUSION
I have taken a negative approach; my objective isn’t to lay open my life. That is why, the Good need not enter into it at all. My objective is to draw attention to the smaller, tiny social mores, behaviours and attitudes that determine personality and mental make-up. The two or three examples given show what I can only call an evidence of a sick mentality – setting bees on classmates. How can that be attributed to fun? How is merely talking to a Girl, an evidence of a love affair? Are you mentally sick, a retard?

There is no way we can stop bullying; that is an unfortunate human trait that people with lesser mental capability adopt to vanquish an intellectually superior person is one way I like to counter it. One insult deserves another! I plan to share this in my school groups as well 😃. But what most people miss is the powerful longer term implications of this behaviour – not just for the bullied person, but also for the bully. 
The bullied person actually develops a strong, rock-solid coping mechanism that prepares him for life, helps him maintain a balance in the ups and downs. But the bully has to learn the hard way –  for the simple reason that for every bully the world has a stronger bully!! And it is this behaviour that translates into adult interactions; a person incapable of softer interactions & softer emotions will always be a bully! 

Is There Hindu Terror?

Published November 10, 2017 by vishalvkale

Hindu terror {or similar terms like Extremism} – the buzzword of the past week or so. This is, at best, a topic that ensures passion – but we need to confront this allegation head-on as a society, for our own well-being. In the past week or so, two or three articles have appeared that open this debate; the author’s courage and forthrightness needs to be appreciated, that much is certain. Opinion is strictly divided into two camps – one says, with a marked lack of eloquence at times, what terror? The other side says, look around. As in much else, here too, I have a middle opinion – and no, I am not sitting on the fence on this one, as a couple of my friends and seniors have alleged in some cases


IS THERE HINDU TERROR?
So, we first need to examine whether or not there is Hindu Terror at all, in the first place, and then look at its dimensions. Now in this, sorry to state, there can actually be no debate : there is no terror so far as we know from what information is present in the public discourse. Terrorism means, in the words of Collins Dictionary, “Terrorism is the use of violence, especially murder and bombing, in order to achieve political aims or to force a government to do something.” Oxford has this to say : “The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”
In the public understanding – using my own personal understanding of what terror / terrorism means, I can state that terrorism is organized large-scale violence meant to achieve some objective, religious or otherwise. I may be wrong, but the above might just be approximately correct. Now if the above three are generally correct for the large part, then I am very much afraid that there is no case for Hindu terror, of that there can be no doubt whatever
But does that mean all is hunky dory, as the Bhakt Brigade makes it out to be? Well, I am very much afraid, not so. All is not well in at least one way – and I don’t refer to criminal activities like hurting and beating up people due to Cow Vigiliantism. That is another matter entirely, one on which we had best remain silent, and not cause tension. Let that be. Having said that, those incidents are worthy of severe condemnation; and I hope the scourge is controlled and eradicated fast.
ARE THINGS PERFECT?
So what can we say of the point I allude to above – that things are not entirely right? Some people believe that there is no issue – I would like to think so; but, I regretfully admit that this is not the true reality, and I do not refer to any political aspect / censorship / defamation cases  and other cases filed as we have been reading. As I have repeatedly stated elsewhere, I am trying to be apolitical, a lover of democracy who keeps {or tries to} keep his political views a secret, not for public consumption.
I refer to my friends and family; to my associates, acquaintances, and other people – people like you and me. They are the reason I am slowly going silent on many issues; yes I do feel scared. I feel terrified, more than terrified. I feel scared of losing relationships, getting into arguments with those I care for, love; those I have to work with, socialize : arguments around politics & religion tend to sour relationships in the personal space, reduce efficiency & productivity in the workplace, and are manifest time-wasters, imho.  Given the harshly defined positions in the mindspace of the people, it is hard to convince either side; leading to hot talks, arguments, with neither side willing to concede.
CLEARLY DEFINED IDEOLOGICAL SPACES
The political space in India is rapidly evolving into two clear ideological spaces; far from this being a flashpoint of worry, this is actually great, as it promises the end of fragmented opinion, voter-groups, and will slowly over time evolve into a much stronger base for our already rock-solid democracy. So long as open free and fair discussion is encouraged, it will enable learning, evolution of national choices, with clear directives emerging over time. Let us all welcome this; that said – there are flashpoints for worry emanating from the extremely charged debates we tend to indulge in with those of us not on our side of the POV. I myself have been discussing, till the time I saw the light and disengaged in totality. On the aspect of religion, I have nothing to say. Perhaps, my silence will be more eloquent than all the words the English language can muster up on this matter. That says it all – Samajhne Waale Samajh Gaye Hain!
Each person is entitled to his or her opinion; let us all grant that space to everyone. So long as that opinion is not a physical, real harm to you, it shouldn’t matter. I readily admit that this rather grandiose statement is very difficult to actually achieve; given the ready availability of information, one or the other side is bound to be proven wrong at some point in time. I further admit that there is a manifest misunderstanding regarding some issues, perhaps on both sides – but our highlighting these will not work, as the beliefs are too deeply held, and will require deep seated change; which is never good when sudden. Change is best when gradual.
CONCLUSION
In conclusion, there is no real Hindu terror. I must also regretfully re-iterate that as of now, for me at least, it is just not feasible to openly discuss anything regarding my political views, or views relating to some aspects of Religion. This is deeply regrettable  – but is not terror; I have a fear in my mind, a fear of losing relationships. Yes, I have lost one or two good friendships, as have other people in my knowledge. And frankly, in retrospect, I see nothing gained from our discussions; in fact, in the one or two cases where I backpeddled and went silent, and let matters lie, I now have a great relationship.

I cannot speak for society; I am not an opinion leader, neither am I a known personality. I am just one person in a Billion, quite literally. I can only speak for myself. And speaking for myself – and only myself, I must admit a creeping distaste and phobia of indulging in charged discussions around Politics and / or Religion nowadays. What does this mean for free speech? Fine – you {metaphorical you} don’t agree with my views – cant we agree to disagree? That is what I have started practicing. There is no need to get personal, or get vicious with words, when we are discussing, is there? So, my call – let it be. I will now try and keep my political views limited to the secret ballot. It is between the ballot and me now. And Religion– is between me and God now… Silence is the best option in this scenario! Now the only aspect on Religion I feel comfortable sharing is quotes of Swami Vivekanand, and some Geeta or other  Scriptural learnings. Nothing else. 

NPA Problem – 2 : Afixing Responsibility Properly

Published November 8, 2017 by vishalvkale

In the previous article – India’s NPA Problem, 2001-2012; we got an overview of the NPA Problem, and could see from the graphs its genesis lay in the high growth period between 2003-2008. As the NPAs started rising from 2008 onwards  they clearly pertain to investment decisions taken in the previous years. Now in any high growth period, some investment calls are going to go bad; if we play too safe – we sacrifice some growth. But, when the same investment decisions turn bad to an extent that Bank Credit to industry dries up, it becomes a serious issue that needs to be dealt with.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE AS PER CURRENT DISCUSSIONS?
There is a tendency by some to blame the UPA Government, and some to blame the NDA Government; as I looked at in the previous article, no one is calling the industry/s to task for failing to judge the environment properly. Is it the contention of the people that 100% of all NPAs were caused by unforeseeable external shocks? There is a strong case in these numbers for the industries & the regulatory authorities to re-visit these industries norms of operation and managerial skill-sets as well as operating environments to analyse where the real fault lay.
GOING INTO SPECIFICS
Let us look at the sectoral spread of these NPAs, and the details to get a more precise idea of the ground realities. NPAs are divided into Priority and Non-Priority Sectors, as we saw in the previous article, India’s NPA Problem 1. We also saw that the significant increase was from the Non-Priority Sector, which is what I choose to focus on to drive home my point. This Non-Priority Sector includes Loans {Retail, Housing, Credit Card, Durables, Auto etc}, Infrastructure, Coal, Iron and Steel, Textiles, Power, Computer Software, Rubber, Metals, Construction, Sugar, Food Processing etc.
HOW ABOUT DISAGGREGATED SECTORAL ANALYSIS



These loans – detailed in one sample chart above –  comprised investment decisions taken by thinking, responsible managers and boards basis available information, as well as their own understanding combined with industry trends and organizational strategic priorities. Given the above, this surprising tendency to question only the Banks for these NPAs is unacceptable. Agreed that looking at it from a Bank perspective allows us to study aggregated data. Also agreed that disaggregated data is near-impossible to come by, which makes any serious study of this at sectoral disaggregated level a rather specialist task. But, it can be done.
WHO IS REALLY RESPONSIBLE – ANALOGOUS EXAMPLES…
Let me start with one or two real examples of failed organizational strategies. Once upon a sweet time, an investment decision was taken by the Senior Management, and was communicated to the hapless Business Head chosen for this misadventure – me. The BH said nothing, put his head down, and started on the GTM Strategy; detailing which produced irrefutable evidence that this was a certainty for failure. This was duly documented with Top Management, who refused to agree – saying let us set a stop loss {!!} and proceed. They also stated, don’t be defensive, go all out. 7-12 months later, that industry was driven to obsolescence by market changes – it was a Technology Product, with massive unsold inventories across brands and states, for the entire industry. Who is responsible for the loans decision/s that went into the seed capital for the new division/s?
Another example – once upon another sweet, sweeter time, several companies {How do I know? From my trade, but of course! I was heading a Region in one such} ventured to take a decision to invest into products of a particular technology, or solution, despite the presence of free, rampant, ubiquitous and effervescent, bubbly and exciting new information of a new product. Now this product was costlier, so these industry veterans bethought that there will be a market for the older range- logical. But – they forget two key aspects – the rate at which costs are cut in the trade, and the probable size of the market for older products. Result was, once again – unsold stocks at distributor and company levels. Marketshare tanked, companies shut in some cases, and new products shot up. The companies have stocks of old products several times that market size. Who is responsible here?
CUTTING TO THE CHASE – AFIXING RESPONSIBILITY
In both the cases above, companies and managements lost, big-time, as the investments did not give the projected returns. Was it possible to at least limit this loss, if not avoid it? Most certainly, it was eminently feasible. Now we can either go on a blame-game, and find fault with these managements, as is the normal case; or – alternatively, we can go deeper into these cases, and find connecting threads, understand why erroneous conclusions were reached despite the presence of evidence to the contrary. Remember, these were thinking decisions reached by domain experts, good people, people who were proved comprehensively wrong. What we do is our decision now –  the choice is ours.
And that is the key point – thinking decisions, taken by good people, domain experts – proved wrong; this happened on a scale that caused the Banking Sector to come under stress, caused economic issues and other connected problems. That is what we can extrapolate from the above analogous examples given above. While I do admit not all the problems could have been foreseen, fact remains that some decisions were proven wrong. The RBI report clearly identifies such issues, if you read between the lines:
The problem of NPAs is related to several internal and external factors confronting the borrowers (Muniappan, 2002). The internal factors are diversion of funds for expansion, diversification and modernisation, taking up new projects, helping/ promoting associate concerns, time/cost overruns during the project implementation stage, business (product, marketing, etc.) failure, inefficient management, strained labour relations, inappropriate technology/technical problems, product obsolescence, etc., while external factors are recession, non-payment in other countries, inputs/power shortage, price escalation, accidents and natural calamities. According to another study, the major reasons for NPAs include improper selection of borrowers’ activities, weak credit appraisal system, industrial problems, inefficient management, slackness in credit management and monitoring, lack of proper follow-up, recessions and natural calamities and other uncertainties {See Bibliography}
That is why, looking at NPAs from a Banks-only perspective is fraught with risk; that is also one of the reasons why some experts are opining the Bank Recapitalisation is like the kicking the problem into the future – unless structural reform is not undertaken. This problem is far deeper, and is also rooted in the culture prevalent in Corporate India as well. Structural Reforms will of course mitigate the problem – as I may attend to in some future article; but these wont fully solve the internal issues identified in the report mentioned, as also proven by the two real examples shared above. The question we should be asking ourselves is simply this : how can we ensure better decision making within our organisations? This is something I intend to try and answer on these pages, which document my thoughts… stay connected!

Fresh MBA Hirability – A Practical Industry/College Solution

Published November 4, 2017 by vishalvkale

An article in The Hindustan Times today caught my eye –  Fewer than half of new MBA graduates getjobs as economy sputters, trend at 5-year low. The articles open with a hard punch to your gut : “Job offers for fresh management graduates in India are at a five-year low, official data show, a trend experts blame on a sluggish economy as well as a mismatch between the years-old curriculum and industry expectations…. In 2016-17, just 47% of Master of Business Administration (MBA)graduates got placed on the campus, a dip of 4% over the previous year, marking a five-year low. At 12%, the drop was far sharper for postgraduate diploma holders.
Image Source : from HT Article linked above


I said this on my blog nearly 4 years ago – there is a dire need to revisit the MBA Curriculum; but it isn’t the only aspect of this problem. I say this with authority, as I have seen both sides – having been a Visiting Faculty, as well as a current Industry Veteran. There is an issue with the MBA Course, but correcting it requires a will; it requires a combination of fresh talent in MBA Colleges – Industry Veterans who should team up with Academicians for solving this complex problem. At the same time, Industry needs to invest in training – which it doesnt; it needs to re-visit the entire Performance Management System, which is hopelessly obsolete, number oriented and simply fails to capture the modern reality of business; it also needs to set up realistic expectations from new recruits. Let us consider these two problems one-by-one in detail
THE MBA COURSE
The view that all in wrong in the MBA Course is inaccurate – for any number of reasons. First of all, the MBA Course is an introduction to Business & Management, and establishes the fundamentals in business – without which we are lost. In my experience – all the courses I have been associated with, do it admirably, at least in letter. The difficulty is the absence of proper teaching aids – and I don’t mean AV equipment. Frankly, they are enablers; we require content. And content is the real issue – there is a need to revisit the content of the books, and make them more relevant.
The content is woefully inadequate in terms of Indian Examples. As a Management Book Reviewer and avid reader of Management Research Books,

  • ü I have observed many-a-time that I am yet to read too many Indian Institutes & teachers coming out with real  case studies on the Indian Market and Brands, as also Management Thought. We aren’t creating intellectual property – which is the real issue. Simply making cosmetic changes to the course will not suffice.  
  • ü Add to this the Language and Affordability barrier – content and books are damned costly, and in English, which is a major barrier
  • ü You need to make the content richer in terms of relevance to Indian Markets, which will enable deeper learning and also provide a deeper connect with students as they can easily relate.
  • ü The course as such is just fine; there is little that is missing. It needs to be made more contemporary in these terms.
The MBA Course is supposed to give basics of Business, Marketing, Finance, etc to prospective employees for the corporate sector; this is what it does. 



  • ü What it doesn’t do is – give a connect with the realities of the Indian Market. That is why we need Indian Original Content, not copied Western thought.
  • ü In addition to this, there is a need for students to do more realistic projects on all subjects; the course is far too theoretical, and gives the students zero idea of the domestic realities. The marking system needs to incorporate genuine brain-work on realistic projects, not just exams. 


  • The way to do this is simple –
  • ü deeper Industry College interaction; and
  • ü lateral hires at Professor level for MBA College teaching options
  • ü Given the lesser stress, it will be easy to attract talent for the universities;
  • ü this will require a re-visit of the qualification norms, and the development of precise judgement criterion to ensure the lateral hires fit in, have knowledge of their domain, and can contribute positively.
  • ü The pitfalls of hiring only basis visible achievement is inaccurate, as designation is no guarantor of true ability and knowledge, which needs to be kept in mind.



CORPORATE INDIA

In the paragraph above, I stress deeper Industry-College interaction; this cannot happen unless Industry understands that it is a part of the problem. I stated in the opening that both the colleges and the companies are responsible for the glut; let me add a third factor here – the students. The industry grouse that the MBA expects too much and knows too little is grounded in reality, that much is sadly true. But with deeper interaction – this can be attended to, as the reality sinks into students. Before blaming the students, we need to accept that we are making no effort to educate them as well.
The key question is, how will this interaction happen? This can only happen in the Human Resources Function, and some other staff functions; for reasons I attend to later on in the article. 
  • ü One possible way is regular interaction of HR / Staff function managers with a selected bunch of colleges – in terms of lectures by managers – properly curated by the College in terms of content;
  • ü Co-hosting real-time tiny projects in real scenarios, which same to be designed to be of very short {daily projects}, short {week-fortnight} projects.
  • ü An example of a daily project could be market survey of all retail counters in a street – which will take only 2 hours; or checking documentation in back-office etc. This can be suitable added on by a thorough training intervention – which should be regular, not sporadic.
  • ü Even a child requires help to walk; and a fresh MBA is a Child in the Big Bad World of Corporates.
The other aspect that needs attending to – the toning down of expectation from new hires. That will not happen unless you re-design the entire PMS – which leaves no scope for learning, or real training. I understand we are in a hypercompetitive market; and that bottom and top lines need to be achieved; but chasing numbers mindlessly, without heed to basics is fraught with even higher risks – as many in my parent sector, Telecom, found much out to their chagrin. There needs to be a balance between pure numbers, and business basics – and at all levels. You need to judge strategic ability at all levels – and this is even more vital in a hypercompetitive market, where the cost of a strategic misjudgement and improper strategic implementation are the precise same – Business Closure.
The list of companies that have paid the price for the above is incalculable; we need to do both – hit our numbers while also ensuring long-term stability of the business as a running enterprise. This we have clearly failed to do in many cases. And once you shift focus to the nitty gritty of business – the nuts n bolts, the basics – the need for a strong fundamental and theoretical basis will emerge ever more strongly. You don’t need an MBA to just hit numbers, to be brutally frank; but you need a good thinking and  trained MBA to be able to judge the medium and long-term impact of your short-term tactics even at field level, and  modulate your responses in the field accordingly.

  • CONCLUSION – INDUSTRY
  • ü Industry expects immediate numbers;
  • ü industry expects top performance without any time for learning; 
  • ü industry expects a softened person, whose edges have been rubbed off.
  • ü All three require training and experience.
  • ü You need people – so why not associate with idenitified universities – in Tier B and C towns and colleges as well and step in in a win-win situation?
  • ü Second, as a line manager myself – I too feel at risk when I used to go for a fresher; the risk to me personally, or my team targets, as well as the complete absence of a support mechanism or space in operation deny me the space to create my own strategies. {That is one reason why I feel this initiative has to be owned by the staff functions}
  • ü This, in a nutshell, is the gist of the problem on the company side, which is complex mutli-layered problem with no easy solutions…
CONCLUSION – COLLEGES

  • ü On the education side – they also need to do the same as above; they need to open up and admit lateral hires, as well as be more open to partnerpships with companies.
  • ü Create Intellectual Property of your own… invest in Research, papers, books creation on the Indian Market, and make them publicly available. Don’t treat them as classified secrets!
  • ü Revise the course to make it more contemporary
  • ü Increase the practical work importance, content and relevance so that students are in touch with reality!

Book Review : Razor Sharp : 13 Short Stories

Published November 2, 2017 by vishalvkale

This is a new genre for me; that is why I was initially skeptical of reading this book – and passed it over. Adding to it was the rather uncomfortable fact of its being an e-book, which doesn’t appeal to me. Frankly, a book should feel like a book, smell like a book… or it isn’t a book. But a friend who runs a book blog {a Top Indian Blog} recommended it to me – and suggested I read and review it. So it was that I landed up reading this e-book, based only on the recommendation of a friend, my experience with whose with suggestions on reading was 100%.


E-READING-MATERIAL
First, The E-book. I made a flat statement above; and I stand by it. I read something – and blunt, frank and straight, it wasn’t a book. It was intellectual property, a reading product, reading material – but not a book. It didn’t feel like one, smell like one, didn’t have the same interface, and more. I didn’t like it. Period. Yes, I have read E-Reading-Material before, {Ain-i-Akbari, Economic History Of India by RC Dutt, various RBI reports, Ecology / Genetics research papers etc} – and admit that this is going to be a trend. It has distinct advantages in terms of cost, but loses one hell of a lot in terms of reading comfort, especially in following complex arguments, theses etc. It will be a sad day indeed when the printed version goes out of fashion. That said – E-Reading does lower barriers for entry to new writers.
THE BOOK
Aah, now we come to the book. As I noted above, the person recommending this has a hit-rate of 100%; I have liked all suggestions. Well, to cut it short, the strike rate remains 100%. And this has introduced me to a new genre – short stories of the human-interest genre. These can be fascinating for the glimpses they give into life, culture, human psychology, society and more; they are easy to read, as each story is unconnected. That means, you can use this to disconnect from arduous tasks; 10 minutes – and you are fresh again! In a normal book, you might get distracted if you try that!
That is precisely what I got from this book – the short stories and cryptic in many ways, very short in some cases; but all of them, without exception, giving a discerning look into some aspect of life, humanity, society, people. That may or may not have been the intention; being new to this genre I cannot say. But the short, sharp and pointed observations, characteristics, situations, and life-portrayals in the book bring out some deep and most times poignant aspect of life. Most stories end with a powerful insight into some aspect of life. And yes – the title of the book says it all {Razor-Sharp}
The difficulty, you cant really review such books, at least judging from this experience – not in terms of the story or the content. Given the short nature of the content, anything I write will be a dead give-away, a spoiler. Thus, excuse me for not revealing even one word of the content of the stories. Each story is short, sharp, and well-crafted. There wasn’t a single one that I didn’t like. Each story, as noted above, revolves around one human emotion, or societal reality, or one single human factor. Each story creates a web of enchantment around your mind, and pulls you in.
The above is a feat; creating engaging content with such short notes is very hard, as most bloggers are aware. Each word has to be in place; the room for error does not exist, or the entire story suffers. And if you can manage to build a character is such a crippling disadvantaged constraint – that is realy good indeed. And that is what I liked the best – I can still recall a few characters from the short stories – meaning the author has made a connect with me on a deep level, that the character has left its imprint on me, an indelible mark that will stay with me.
CONCLUSION
E-Reading-Material : If it isn’t printed, it isn’t a book. Period, end of discussion. Jai Raam Ji Ki. Namaste. Sayonara. That says it all. But, sadly, this is here, and to stay. It has many advantages – and I concede them all, so may as well get used to them! Whoever said development is good?????? Would I read them again – yes, depending on the genre.

The Book – definitely worth a read. It is a well-crafted piece of art {book when in printed form}, that is a fast and light read. The stories make a deep connect with you, have a life of their own, and are written in simple prose. The cover the full range of human emotions, and leave you in a very different mood than when you started out; they are short, sharp, fast reads, full of the flavours of life in every form. This is a good option for a journey, as it is in easy format {E-R-M}, easily available, and light. 


“This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program and Blog Tours.  To know more log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.in

Inherent Risks Of Social Media Advertising – And How To Mitigate Them

Published October 28, 2017 by vishalvkale

I was enjoying my morning read of the Business Standard, when my eye fell upon a story – Facebook and Google helpedanti-Refugee campaign in Swing States, Business Standard, Friday 20thOctober. I  noticed this story, and marked it for later contemplation. The recent saga over Twitter usage by  Indian Politicians brought my mind back to this story – and its many implications. While the ethical & moral implications are also present – but most vital is the implication of this, and similar happenings we may or may not be aware of, for us the people as well as for democracy.
Image Credit – Google Search

It is one thing for a politician to openly come on Social Media – quite a few have done it quite successfully; they lay their views, attitudes, national plans, ideals, problems etc – like one Indian Politician. Others use Facebook, and especially  Twitter in their own names to further their own views etc. There is nothing wrong with that – in fact, that is actually welcome, as it helps a large number of people become aware of what that person stands for, as well as have a judgement of his or her potential. Used that way it is ethical, transparent, open and disseminates information.
TARGETED USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA BY INTERESTS
However, I would request that you open the link above and read it; the usage of – maybe even targeted usage of – the Social Media platform as described in the article, goes way beyond what has been described above, and indeed way beyond the scourge of fake news that is now a common phenomenon that we are seeing on Social Media nowadays.  “In the final weeks of the 2016 election campaign, voters in swing states including Nevada and North Carolina saw ads appear in their Facebook feeds and on Google websites touting a pair of controversial faux-tourism videos, showing France and Germany overrun by Sharia law.
This is quite frankly, extremely disturbing, worrisome and should cause unease and disquiet in most minds. The article goes further, showing emloyees roles as well as targeted advertising : “Unlike Russian efforts to secretly influence the 2016 election via social media, this American-led campaign was aided by direct collaboration with employees of Facebook and Google. They helped target the ads to more efficiently reach the intended audiences, according to internal reports from the ad agency that ran the campaign, as well as five people involved with the efforts.
FACTOR 1 : OUR ENTIRE LIVES ARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE INTERNET
In the modern world, those of us connected on Social Media have our entire lives on these platforms; it is easy to collate and study patterns for the SM companies – with a larger customer base meaning more defined patterns. It allows advertisers to target people specifically as per your individual tastes. Just think – you click on a site, and ads related to that site pop-up in your feed; used this way, it is legal, ethical as well as a powerful advertising tool, which can and does lead to win-win situations for the customers as well as the companies alike. But recall that we have our opinions, likes and dislikes etc all openly stated; it is easy to spot patterns and create interest groups on a large database.
FACTOR 2 : IMPACT OF AV MESSAGES & MODERN PREFERENCES OF PEOPLE
Secondly, the impact of Audio-Visual messages is known to be strong in both psychology as well as advertising. Further, add to that the increasingly short attention span of the audience combined with the sad phenomenon of lesser personal time / greater work stress, as well as the propensity to prefer easier to assimilate modes of information gathering {AV}, and short tit bits. These two sub-factors combine to create a situation that enables a mind to easily assimilate and accept messages that meet these criteria stated above.
DRAWING INFERENCES FROM THE TWO FACTORS
The two major factors above create a situation wherein a targeted message can be accepted with readiness and ease at least by one segment of the population. The abilities and concepts described in the first factor create a set of people with vested interests that enable the creation of ability and skill sets that can be put to use to reach the set of consumers identified for targeted messaging. In other words, to put it crudely, a set of people willing to accept, and a set of providers willing to use this acceptability of the people to get across a targeted message comes together to create confusion.
Let me explain – on one side, you have a set a data, voluminous, about people – their likes, dislikes, views, readership, viewership, opinions. We can use this to create sub-groups according to various tastes, opinions and what-have-you. This is the company-side skill. On the other side, you have a set of people with easy acceptance of AV or short messages, short content as told in the second factor. The companies can spot patterns among the people, can group them together. Thus it is becomes easy to make tailormade messages that can influence people with specific proclivities and propel their choices towards a targeted objective.
It is feasible to create patterns, extrapolate and draw inferences from Social Media activities. If one person has a habit of regularly visiting Food sites, specific to Chololates, Desserts, Cakes – one can draw the inference that this person may have a preference for sweets. Similarly, if a person regularly likes, tweets, gives opinion on one side of any view in the political or social spectrum, you can extrapolate that he believes in one POV. In large enough data – hundreds of thousands of respondents – this will enable the identification of a set of people predisdisposed towards a thought process. This may not hold true for all instances –  but in a large enough data sets of people, patterns will emerge that generally hold true; and remember, in Social Media we are dealing with live data sets, not snapshots of time.
As can be seen above – a targeted message {Anti-Refuge} was delivered through social media. And again, as we can read, there was direct collaboration of employees. Result was a strong message was delivered at a targeted audience, again as stated in the article.  And that is why the article above is so disturbing. While it is possible for this to happen even without the collusion of employees of SM companies, it becomes infinitely easier with their help; also, the data is also relatively error-free. Add to this the issue of Subliminal Advertising – of which currently there is no provable evidence in the public domain, and neither is it a legislated area.
COMING TO INDIA…
Can this happen in India? Has this happened in India? We do not know; I hope not. But we do know that now the political parties are using Social Media in myriad ways, as has been extensively reported. We also know of at least one book on trolling or usage of SM by one party. We have seen another getting smarter in its SM presence. This they should do – SM is an efficient way to reach audiences – be it politics or be it consumer goods. No issues with that whatsoever.
The problem is if this newfound capability is used to get across a targeted message – especially one of the fringe variety, towards a targeted audience. The biggest question is – where do we draw the line? And who is to judge what is the line specifically? If we have the capability to segment audiences as per tastes, I for one see no reason why that should not be used for mutual benefit. But – as I asked in my previous article as well – how far is too far?
It is we ourselves that are giving these parties and these companies this ability, by placing all our choices openly. This cannot be avoided in increasingly connected world – just not posting on SM is not the long term solution; other proxies can easily be developed, as so much is online in the modern world, that with time, money and capability drawing inferences from data sets is dead easy. This is the evil side, the negative side of the technology that drives our civilization. It really boils down to data security, and a question of simple regulation and ethics.
A QUESTION OF RULES & REGULATIONS
The Social Media companies need to have a strong set of internal rules &  regulations governing content that is accepted by their advertising departments; one that is specially rigorous for political parties or for messages that can be construed to have a political content, or indeed for social content. There has to be a differentiator clearly placed between product-service advertising, and cause advertising. This is doable and is frankly easy to do and operate. It requires an iron will within companies. It also requires strict regulation and a code of ethics so that pressure tactics are not used to pressurize companies.
CONCLUSION

Both the above are doable; we in corporate India need to wake up and smell the coffee. We need to open our eyes, and see the immense potential for good that technology holds as well as the immense potential for influence it holds – and the potential for damage. On a personal side, we customers need to be made more aware of privacy issues, data security and issues arising out of the above. It is not feasible to expect 500million people to stop posting opinions etc on SM; that is not going to happen.  Above all we need to understand the immense creative as well as disruptive power social media holds, its potential, as well as the need for regulation. This is a space that is not self-regulating. We need to wake up, and ensure that some borders are set in place. The US example should not be repeated… 

Book Review – Make Success A Habit ; 50 Stories That Enlighten, Empower, Energise and Entertain

Published October 23, 2017 by vishalvkale

This current book under review is quite unlike any I have reviewed, with only one – Subir Chaudhury’s The Difference – making as much of a connect with me – as a professional. As a person, this book has connected with me big-time; but that is something I will reserve for a private conversation / communication with the Author, Mukul Deva. Almost every page of this book, taken seriously, is a learning and an experience. In light of the above preamble, let me depart from normal custom or style, and quote lines from an iconic Hindi song, one which came to my mind as I was reading one of the stories contained in this collection of 50 real life case studies.

इक दिन बिक जाएगा, माटी के मोल
जग में रह जाएंगे, प्यारे तेरे बोल
दूजे के होंठों को, देकर अपने गीत
कोई निशानी छोड़, फिर दुनिया से डोल
इक दिन बिक जायेगा   …
{Source : Lyricsindia.net}
We, in the daily humdrum of business, rarely give time to focus on the small, tiny and seemingly irrelevant, or unimportant, or lesser vital, or basic issues & habits that go into making us a professional and a person. So acute is our focus on ourselves, our KRAs, our lives, our desires, our ambitions  that we forget these rock-bottom basics. These are the bedrock of life; be it personal or be it professional. This exclusive focus tends to take us away from our maximum potential, rather than make us more effective in achieving our potential. That is why we need to re-train, re-charge, re-focus, and look for – introspect – analyse ourselves to make us better people and better professionals.

Mukul Deva

That, in a nutshell, is the lesson I have drawn from this book. Now the question in your mind ought to be, what is that song doing in between a perfectly reasonable business discussion? That brings me to the story number 45 in the book – my own sticky pad notes on it should be self-explanatory. I wrote : In this {story}, the lesson is that the basics of care, honour, decency, respect & importance should be provided with and to each person we speak to – professionally as well as personally. The lines above also says much the same – in an oblique fashion; if we can get others to sing our tune – we are done. They wont sing freely unless they like, understand & agree to it! The key here is that this is not a theory – this is told through a real life success & turnaround story.
All too often, we treat people roughly, or don’t listen to them, or half-listen, or insult, or ignore them – leading to long-term damage down the line. The impact of this behavour on business bottom and top lines, professional relationships etc  is amorphous in real life – in this book, a clear line has been drawn for us. And this is something that repeated in 50 case studies, all around small with vital aspects in Business or in life.
You have stories around communication, team handling, development and management – building scalability – sustainability – performance in teams / developing teams and members; personal development -goal setting, thought management; simple yet often ignored managerial processes, the importance of sticking to the basics and fundamentals in this ever-increasingly paced life, values & ethics, training self to inculcate process oriented thinking, leadership & leadership roles; and more.
This is a review – not a summary; therefore, I have to stop here. But, let me organize the above into some fashion of order. The stories contend around Leadership, Team Management, Team Development, Personal Development in broad categories. The various real life case studies together provide a multi-faceted look at different parameters of the above broad categories. Each story has names and details changed – but is a real story, from a Business perspective. Here you will learn the importance of the small, the basic, and the intangible things that separate good from great is the way I put it.  
That said, I do have a grouse; it was surprising to note top managers not having a connect with, or not giving importance to, some things that are clearly basic to any business : a shared  vision, values, ethics, basic decency, team development, empowerment etc are all fundamental requirements of a strong performing sustainable and scalable team. Without these, the team may return excellent performance over a short period – but will lack sustainability and scalability. A leader needs to, above all, ensure that teams and their performance are sustainable and scalable. That is precisely what goes wrong as sales go up, and resultant quality and customer experience goes down – leading to sales losses!  And this book also teaches us the way we can avoid that pitfall!

Now, all stories will not hold equal attraction for all – there may be some areas where you are doing fine. Thus, you have to pick and choose. Question is – how do you pick? The only way you can judge where you yourself are upto speed is do the small questions at the end of each case study – these questions are self-analytical, and provide insights as to where you need to work on. I used sticky notes to annotate my thoughts where I found relevance to me  to work on. But that is my style; you can do it any way you choose to.  All in all, rated 5 stars, must read book for businesses and professionals alike!

Kesari Wada – Hidden Gems In Pune

Published October 17, 2017 by vishalvkale

I was on my way to a business meeting, when I chanced upon something that looked a lot like it as related historically to someone I hold very dear to me heart – Lokmanya Tilak; so, on a lark and with an attitude of “wont hurt to see what this is”, I walked in. It was rather late, around 7-ish, so the place was closed – but there was enough present in terms of indication and signboards to tell me that I had indeed hit on a hidden gem, a vintage place of historical significance in my hunt for the origins of the Indian Independence Struggle, documented regularly on my blog for the past several years. 


The next day, I walked in on the next leg of my pilgrimage – a visit to Kesari. As I have noted before, there was a complete absence of people there, which was immensely saddening and tragic to my eyes & heart, which was sold to the Independence Struggle and the people who achieved the impossible. To be fair, the people present there did state that there were visitors to came – but on my visit, the silence was total, and the presence of visitors a grand total of zero. This is near-par for the course, and what I have seen in my previous experiences, with limited or zero attendance at some other places.


  
To be doubly fair – these are out-of-the-way places, and are out of the public consciousness. Though I am an ardent admirer of The Mahatma, I frankly admit that there is a dire need to highlight the other leaders who gave their all in the quest for independence. This isn’t just about The Mahatma; we place emphasis on Panditji, The Sardar, Bhagat Singh, Netaji – these are all key players. Each played a major role, and each deserves our undying gratitude for their sacrifices. But there were many, many others, some vital – like The Lokmanya, and some unknown, like Vasudeo Balwant Phadke. Why we cant have organized tours of these places, well marketed & backed up – and highlighted properly in public? Why should we not have proper systematic importance in visibility given to these vital places as well?


The Lokmanya was by no means a small figure; he stands as one of the most important figures of our Independence Movement; that is why, the zero attendance in the Kesari Museum was stunning. I will of course visit again – it is too mesmerizing a place to visit but once. I noted the same lackadaisical presence in The Aga Khan Palace – another landmark in our struggle, and another places that merits multiple visits. This was the same scenario in Wardha, also documented on my blog. Each of these are exceedingly well preserved, maintained – yet were near empty to empty on my visits.


Why should we not visit these places? I know, gathering from heated, not-so-heated, calm as well as reasoned discussions on social media, our organized media articles as well as my personal interactions with people that the entities in whose honour these memorials are made and preserved have a following and a sense of gratitude among us.  It isn’t as though we have forgotten. Why should we not have it in our hearts to, at the very least, spend some time at their memorials, if for no other reason – then just to bow our heads, have a tear in our eyes, and say thank you? Is that too much to expect?


Speaking of myself, I was immensely saddened and disheartened by the emptiness of the place; the caretaking managers assurance that people do visit was small solace. Having seen the emptiness in other vital places before, I was not assured. To my readers – rest assured, if I do find people visiting – I will also document that faithfully. As for now, basis my previous experiences, I am slightly disheartened. Even at the Army Memorial the attendance wasn’t upto the mark, though visitors were present. Again – next time if I find the situation better – I will certainly document it.


I know for sure only one thing – as I wandered around in that museum, I felt I was in a temple, almost: this was the place where The Lokmanya sat, discussed in nightlong discussions with eminent leaders of that time; launched his newspapers, planned for Indian Independence, and more. You can find more details about it here. As for me – I felt blessed; I felt “dhanya” – like I was lucky, and chosen to be here in that moment, in that holy place. My heart was heavy, yet proud… it was a moment I shall carry to the funeral pyre with me; it was one of the most special moments of my life… 



Lessons From The Humble Shaving Alum

Published October 16, 2017 by vishalvkale

I don’t really know why I purchased that shaving alum; I was at a medical store, I just spotted it in the shelf top glass display. I just asked for it on a whim, as in  “dekhein toh sahi” types; and took it home. Started using it, aside from my regular after shave lotion. After a period of time, say a week or so, I began to notice that my after shave lotion doesn’t burn as much; that my skin feels real soft as I run the alum over it, and feels nice and relaxed. I shrugged the thought off – I mean, it was after all, just a piece of alum and I was doing basically a relatively unimportant daily ritual. Not worth doing any brainstorming, or so I thought.


Until that day the alum ran out – what lives must die, the immutable law of nature. Well, I mean – it was just alum, wasn’t it? No big deal. I still had that Lotion, nice perfumy in a decorative bottle, one which cost one hell of a lot {that is what it seems like now}, and one that I was used to. My skin, who happens to be a most independent and self-centered chap, had most definite and other diametrically divergent ideas though. It would have none of it, and revolted. It began to miss the calming soothing caregiving touch of the Alum… and drove me to the medical store again, to buy… the humble Shaving Alum!
Now that set me thinking – about customer demand, what influences demand, the entire customer experience, the product benefits & features, the entire marketable package – and about human behaviour as well.


HUMAN BEHAVIOUR
Let me first look at the human aspect – I was aware that the Alum had many benefits; not just shaving benefits. Yet, I in my Upper Middle Class educated punch drunk stupor, never thought of actually trying it out. Why should this be so? The thought itself did not occur to me. And when it did, I was consciously telling the Pharmacist let me try it out. Why this needless clarification? My ego – and my perceptions, which dictated that Alum was downmarket! I thought myself to be superior, in other words – and that perception had a defined marketing benefit, recognized by most marketers as such. Had I gone along with my perceptive biases – I would have missed on a great experience every morning, and that is too high a price to pay for either ego or choice or perception!
There is another deeper level here – many times, very probably, we do not observe the real good qualities in people, objects and the world around us, as our self-placed perceptive biases do not allow these to permeate to our consciousness. This means that we allow our biases, perceptions, images, thoughts to cloud our realization – leading to incorrect assumptions as well as missing out on some great people, great experiences, and great opportunities. Thus, it is vital that we, each of us – self included, actively make an effort to recognize these perceptive biases that cloud our vision!
These biases and blockages of perception not only prevent us from a richer experience, but they could also be hampering our performance, our relationships, our outreach, our values and beliefs; as Mukul Deva says – my reality is as real as his or her reality {approximation}. We need to see the other reality as well as the hidden aspects – some of which may actually have deep resonance with yourself at an individual level as well – as the Humble Shaving Alum taught me. For example – you may not agree with someone’s views; , or you may have higher achievements… in that case, broaden your vision – move ahead even if he or she doesn’t, look beyond! See the larger perspective of the personality involved in front of you – and spot synergies. Once you do that – hidden benefits will certainly emerge!


MARKETING AND BUSINESS LESSONS
Look at this entire business transaction from a Channel Perspective before we move into theory in the next article: A customer of a premium product has discovered an alternative for a core function of the product – each product has core and additional features. Scent, form, packaging, psychographic & behavioural factors etc are also critical – note that I still use the original product, which I find to be quite excellent by the way. Yet, I cannot but miss that in my opinion, the Alum does a far better task of soothing my skin. This is a direct attack on a core product feature. {Not only that, it is also a big learning-  the power of observation, inquisition, and willingness to learn. But that is another story, for another dedicated article}
How did this happen, arise? I saw the cheaper alternative in a channel display in a premium shop, one which is not a standard solution for such cosmetics, namely a medical shop. You would ordinarily not associate Alum and Lotion as competitors, and yet – at least one customer of Lotion has gone in for Alum. Where is the guarantee that someone else might not, and that scale wont build up? Now this may never happen – the point is that what we can learn from this as managers.
First learning – the power of the channel, displays, good old retail marketing, involvement of the retailer, POP marketing etc. This is the basic and easily visible level. Let us go deeper from here onwards. This anecdotal evidence hides something deeper within its womb – the second learning, which is the dynamics of customer choice, the role of the first semester marketing lesson of early adopters, innovative customers, {There is a small  chance my write-up may cause someone else to buy Alum!} as well as the vital importance of keeping in touch with the market at the bottom levels.
At this second level, the bigger question arises that how do we measure, judge, compare, study these interactions which  take place daily at thousands of retail outlets? Marketing says Marketing Research – which is basis, at the core, a defined sample. That is one method – granted. You have another readily available source-  two of them. One – your own sales teams. Find a method to reach out to these, and identify a method whereby minute-by-minute market feedback can be captured in real time, not on your smartphone gadgets you give to the FOS but through deeper methods at slightly higher levels, that is SO / ASM / RSM levels, wherein you now have the requisite education, experience to be able to summarise these trends into actionable formats. This will improve performance in terms of range choice, channel decisions at RSM level as well! How – stay in touch with my blog as I develop my thoughts further.
Second method – India has a management college in every single district. These students by and large have zero practical experience, and summer placements don’t help. Reach out to these colleges and formulate a methodology whereby students get hands on projects to complete, either paid or unpaid projects – real market research to implement; have it incorporated into the marking system – and use this resource to identify market and consumer trends. This wont cost much, and will be accepted by colleges so long as the project is designed well enough; is devoid of illegal / unethical perceptions, and is sufficiently broad in in core objectives – giving a win-win scenario, allowing colleges to mount original research into trends, creating a pool of talent as well as knowledge.
CONCLUSION
We need to recognize perceptive biases in both our human societal sides as well as our professional sides. Personally, not recognizing common ground in the middle of an argument can lead to losing a valuable relationship – and is thus a win-win scenario. A perceptive bias does not mean you are wrong; it only means that you recognize there are other views as well, right or wrong, and that you cannot force your choice even if it is correct  on the other person. The other person may value Ego, or scent – higher than a functional product core benefit; that is his reality!
Professionally, identifying, recognizing, and sorting out perceptive biases is not something that we should be doing just for self-improvement; it ought to be a vital and constant parameter of self assessment, done in a positive light, so that we may be a better decision maker. Being from Sales, I presented the Sales and Marketing side with a channel example; the point of learning is that we ignore the strongest resource we have in our organisations – our internal teams, which regard Market Data as something to be collated with minimum intelligence and effort. We need to be far more vigorous in ensuring we reach out to and connect with these people. And we need to, most vitally, be inquisitive in every professional endeavor, constantly open to new ideasThis is just one example – how many other areas can we re-look at & introspect so as to eliminate perceptive bias and find new superior ways?
NOTE:

I would like to give credit to Mukul Deva, whose book gave me the final idea that allowed this observation to fall into place, and Debashish Biswas Sir, CEO of SILC, a discussion with whom also gave me deep introspection…