Showing posts with label Intriguing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Intriguing. Show all posts

Monday, August 17, 2020

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Monday, January 2, 2017

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Demonetisation - An Agile Government or an unprepared Government?

8:19:00 PM

If you have been following the news on demonetisation in India, you would have heard the opposition blaming the government on the ever changing rules and that things haven’t been thought through. On the other hand, the government defends itself by saying its a cat & mouse game and everything could not have been thought through

In this video, I take you through the changing demonetisation implementation rules where-in you can decide for yourself whether we have an Agile Government or an unprepared Government

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Demonetisation: The case of the lone cashier

10:29:00 PM

"It was a famous boat race between two arch rivals - Team A & Team B. Both teams had 6 people and had similar configuration boats

The whole town had gathered to see the ultimate race. Much to everyone's surprise, Team A won by a huge margin of more than 2 kms

Team B hired an expensive consulting firm and after an extensive study, they submitted their report;  Team A had 5 rowers & 1 leader, while Team B had 1 rower and 5 leaders, therefore Team B needed restructuring

Team B brainstormed & re-structred - now there was 1 rower, 2 people to encourage the rower, 2 people to monitor the 'motivators' and 1 leader

It is a no brainer on who won the next race... "

I had recently been to one of the private sector banks and what I saw amused as well as enlightened me, on one of the reasons for long queues outside banks

It took totally around 2 hours for me to get to the cashier and for reasons best known to them, they hadn't replenished their ATM although it was in the same premises - probably because they did not want other bank customers to withdraw cash from their ATM! 

Anyways after about an hour of standing outside, I entered the Bank. I saw 3 to 4 bank employees scuttling around, talking in corners and doing nothing! Apparently on enquiry, I was told they were marketing executives and weren't core bankers

As I neared the cash counter, I saw the cashier and two more employees standing around the cashier. On approaching the cashier, I understood, one was the Manager who was 'overlooking' & doing nothing and the other employee merely collected my cheque and filed it. The only person who was 'actually' working and who was totally stressed was the poor lone cashier

I could but only give a knowing smile to the drained-out cashier and wish her good!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Learn how to 'game' customer feedback scores

3:37:00 PM

Sam had gone to receive the delivery of his new car. He was received enthusiastically and offered refreshments

The salesman ran through the regular drill of explaining the features, what can be done, what should not be done, what must be done, etc. After a 20 minute demo, he was asked to wait until the paper work was complete

As Sam waited munching through a cookie, a young smartly dressed lad walked across the room and greeted Sam

"Good Evening Sir, I am Prakash. I am the Quality Representative, how're you doing sir?"

"I'm doing great thank you", replied Sam

"I'm here to get feedback on how your experience has been", he added beaming

"Yeah, so far, so good"

"Sir, are there any areas of improvement that you would suggest?"

"Come to think of it, the test drive car that you brought was in pathetic condition, you guys should maintain these vehicles"

"Sure sir"

"and your delivery lead time has to be shortened" 

"check your google reviews, the ratings are only 2 star, you can pick some improvements from there" continued Sam

Being the enthusiastic person he was, Sam provided a few more feedback, highly impressed by the proactive questioning from this dealer's Q-Rep

"Sure sir, we will take your feedback and strive to improve" said Prakash, stifling a yawn with great difficulty

"The poor guy must be tired, after all its near closing time", thought Sam

Sam also noticed that none of his feedback was noted down - probably Prakash had an awesome memory

As the conversation between them was ending, the salesman joined the conversation with a 100 watt smile

"How is your discussion with our Q-Rep, sir?" questioned the salesman, putting his hand over the Q-Reps shoulder

"You will get a call from the headquarters, please do give us 10/10. sir" added the Q-Rep

Aghast, Sam could only nod. Both the Q-Rep & the salesman were in cahoots and the whole exercise was to urge the Customer to give a high feedback score! So much for the 'pro-activeness'!

After a few days, Sam received a call

"Good Morning Sir, you had recently bought a car from us, what is your overall dealer experience?"

"It was ok"

"How would you rate your experience on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 to 8 is poor, 9 is good and 10 is excellent?"

Sam couldn't believe his ears. What kind of a non-linear rating was this!

Dumbfounded he muttered "9"

"Thank you sir, when you get a call from headquarters, please rate us 9 or 10"

"Excuse me, then who are you?" inquired Sam

"We are the dealer from whom your bought the car. Thank you very much for your time"

We have two take-away's from this

1. a 'pro-active' dealer whose pro-activeness is not in finding & fixing issues but in 'managing' feedback

2. The company 'gaming' the feedback by providing a non-linear scale of measurement in order to show they have 'highest' feedback score among the competition

So much for Quality, Customer Feedback & Process!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Does God exist?

12:17:00 AM

"Prove it to me, show me scientific proof", I heard her say during the late hours in office

"Everything cannot be proved", he replied as emphatically as her

"What are you guys debating about?", I asked

"I am religious and I believe there is God but she says prove it to me", he explained

"Yes, I will only believe when there is a scientific explanation", she emphasised

I was about to join the debate but realised I had more pressing things to worry about, however there was a fundamental flaw in her argument

In 1831 electricity became viable for use in technology when Michael Faraday created the electric dynamo and later Thomas Edison and Joseph Swam discovered incandescent filament light bulb. If we had questioned someone in 1830, on existence of electricity, what would have been their answer?

Radio was invented in 1895. If we had questioned someone in 1894 on the existence of radio waves, what would have been their answer?

It was in the 19th century, that the Atomic Theory was discovered, where it was stated that matter is composed of discrete units called Atoms. If we had questioned someone in the 18th century on the existence of Atoms, what would have been their answer?

Would not knowing the existence of something, make it a non-reality? Would not having the means to confirm something, make it non-existant?

This debate is long drawn however the premise to claim one would believe only once 'scientifically' proven begs for want of imagination. Science has proved and with the same vigour scientists have disproven. At school we studied, in 1930 Pluto was discovered and christened as the smallest and the ninth planet in our solar system. In 2003, an astronomer saw an object (Eris) which was larger and beyond Pluto. This caused the astronomers to re-think on what is a planet and downgraded Pluto from a Planet to a Plutoid. Probably when we have better telescopes, astronomers may downgrade others too!

As homo sapiens there are many things that we know; and a lot many that we don't

Science = Data;
Science != always reality

Every discovery & every invention stems from an imagination. To limit one's imagination over existing facts is curtailing the very spirit of knowledge

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Pay structure drives employee behaviour

11:48:00 PM

If you haven't yet read Does Education throttle us off simple solutions, I urge you to read it in order to appreciate the intricacies of the current matter being discussed

So in continuation to the previous blog, our software professionals decide on continuing their spot audits through random visits; the randomness aided by complex pseudorandom-number-generator using Javascripts, which surprisingly falls on friday nights or weekends

Meanwhile, out there, our 'farmer cum watchman cum caretaker' after much deliberation, is convinced that he needs a pay hike. After all, he has toiled for a year, put his sweat in tilling the land, watering the crops and guarding them through night & day

"Yes, the crops did get 'stolen' under my supervision but that was fate; I need the hike for my hard work" he reasoned to his wife

"Yes, these software guys just sit in front of that coloured box all day, keep drinking tea and get highly paid; of course you should get a hike" added his loyal wife

So when our software professionals arrives 'as expected', our 'farmer cum watchman cum caretaker' approaches them

"Sir, I need an increase in my pay; I have worked hard and I deserve the hike", he said sternly and with conviction 

The look on our software professionals was of utter shock & disbelief; they also realised the situation was delicate and had to be handled carefully; for, what would they do, if he quit

An emergency huddle was dutifully called

"I still can't believe he is asking for a rise", said one of the software professionals

"Exactly, what does he think? Because of his carelessness, we lost our yield and he has the audacity to ask for a pay hike"

"And think about it, we are giving him free stay, electricity and water for his family apart from aiding his child's education and he still expects more!"

"We should add these in his CTC and show him the total cost" quipped the fourth

So after deliberating for an hour, as most corporate meetings, they decided to call for another meeting

In Bangalore, they huddled again and one of them had the eureka moment

"The problem he thinks he deserves a hike is because we did not link the result of his work to his salary", she exclaimed 

Assuming that the 'farmer cum watchman cum caretaker' was a paragon of virtue and had no hand in the robbery of the crops, it is bound that he thinks he had toiled for a year, got the crops to bear fruits and thus had achieved his targets; just one incident of robbery shouldn't outweigh the other goals that he had achieved

As pointed out, if they had linked a part of his remuneration to the successful outcome of the crops, he would have felt more responsible to ensure the goals are achieved

Remuneration structure should always be thought out well because it drives the employee behaviour; it sets the difference between an employee feeling satisfied that he has clocked 45 hours a week to another who assesses if he has helped achieve the project goals

Be prudent, Remuneration and Metrics, drives employee behaviours

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Does Education throttle us 'Off' Simple Solutions?

12:19:00 AM

Here's a short interesting story of my colleague, her husband & their friends. As most software professionals, after years of toiling in front of laptops, null pointers & memory leaks, they too, like many others in their mid career, were bit by the Entrepreneur bug and decided to invest in a farmland. So they invested in a Farmhouse in a remote village, a couple of hours drive from Bangalore

To manage, they appointed a local 'farmer cum watchman cum caretaker' for their Vineyard. They visit once a month to check on things

When they visited last month, they were excited to see their vineyard and estimated around 1.5 tonnes of grapes, a little on the lower side, nevertheless the toil of their hard earned investment

However when they visited last week, in the hope of taking the produce back home, they found, not one, yes, not even one grape! The whole vineyard was empty

When the 'farmer cum watchman cum caretaker' was questioned, he looked down and said the entire produce was stolen and he was too scared to inform them earlier on the phone

So our Corporate friends, in the most professional manner, gave 'feedback' on how disappointed they were to the silent 'farmer cum watchman cum caretaker'; after all a software guy seldom knows to handle the 'exceptions'  beyond the world of codes

Needless to say, after the chastising session, they huddled to brainstorm on a permanent solution to this issue. They couldn't immediately replace the 'farmer cum watchman cum caretaker', as there were no 'succession plan' in place. So they had to have him around, until further recruitment

On the theft front, they had to address it; clever as all of them were, they quickly arrived at the best solution - they needed to put the farm under CCTV surveillance; probably the first ever farm under CCTV surveillance in India, nevertheless it was the need of the hour. So they dusted their disappointments and got back to Bangalore to work on the costs and vendor, listening to Chumbawamba's - I get knocked down, but I get up again

At home, my colleague spoke to her mother about this incident & how they had decided on installing CCTVs. Her mom, who herself owns a farm, looked very bewildered. After a few minutes of puzzled look, she asked

"Why don't you put a picture of a God, tie some threads and write below that the one who steals the fruits will be punished?"

"After all, all villagers believe in God, Mantras & Magic, wouldn't this be enough to scare them away?"

All of them were dumbfounded. Anyone who's from an Indian village knows that they deeply believe in God and fear the powers of Mantra's & Magic. A black thread would do the whole trick! A Rs. 100/- solution to a Rs. 100,000/- solution from the best software minds!

As we become more 'educated' and sophisticated, do we stop finding obvious, easy, straightforward, localised solutions?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Does it pay to create a scam in India?

11:45:00 PM

Would you like to take up a job, where you can earn around Rs. 950 Crores with just 5 years of hard work?

Yes? Lalu Prasad Yadav did just that in the Fodder Scam case!

He was convicted this week for complicity in the Rs. 950 Crore fodder scam case with a sentence of 5 years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of merely Rs. 25 Lakhs. This judgement comes apparently after 17 years of trial!

Would you be ashamed if you were in his shoes?

Don't be, as most politicians consider going to prison as martyrdom!

Here's why

1. When his order was read out, the RJD party leaders hailed "Lalu Prasad zindabad"

2. Lalu's wife, ex-CM Rabri Devi describes him to be a hero

3. His party members claims he was a victim of conspiracy by Nitish Kumar, the now CM of Bihar, so as to silence the voice of Dalits and poor minorities

4. He is jailed in Bihar, the very state where he was the Chief Minister, where he still wields power

5. He complained of bed bugs and the jail authorities are bending backwards to get an agency to clean up... something that was not done when other prisoners had complained

6. He will teach the jailed fellow inmates on Political Science and Management

As Indians, are we supposed to be angered or amused or fall back on our complacent "chalta hai" attitude?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A loose tongue can cost you dear

10:40:00 PM

"I am surprised to see so many people, usually there are only a few in the first class, 2 or 3 scattered around in the second and just myself from the third", jokingly remarked the Professor

The seed was sown...

This weekend was the first contact session for our MS Program and there were around 25 students in the class, all attentively listening

Earlier during the welcome speech, the coordinator had emphasized us on attending the classes. The professor jokingly telling us about the behavior of earlier batches, made us realize it was acceptable to miss classes

Many years back, my role demanded that I reported to someone who was 4 levels above me.  He was a friendly Manager and one day he hinted regarding an opportunity he might have and whether I too would be ready to move along with him

The seed was sown...

Until then, the thought of quitting had not occurred to me - at least this strongly. What he said liberated me of the guilt of 'betraying' - the feeling a fresher 'imagines' when he thinks about resignation

I bet him to it - I had much lesser experience and baggage. I got a job within a month!

In the next job, I decided I would continue for a long time - rather the thought of quitting never occured to me. Three months down the line, my colleagues, who were seniors along with my manager were discussing regarding the sudden spike in attrition over a cup of coffee

My Manager looked at me and asked "Krishna, you have plans to stay at least for a year, right?"

The seed was sown...

A little more than a year after this discussion, I quit. The question indicated the expectation - It was OK to quit; it would only be seen as natural!

As a Manager, we need to be very careful with the our behavior - verbal and non-verbal. Our teams look up at us for approval irrespective of whether they admire us or not! A shadow of weakness or an inappropriate behavior would be sufficient to give them the wrong message!

Meanwhile, I am looking forward to see the attendance in the next contact session

Monday, July 15, 2013

Is being transparent with your team, putting your foot in your mouth?

12:24:00 AM

Tired? Need a break? Take 4 days off in August and get 10 days off in a row... thanks to a long weekend and Independence Day

In all probability, majority of people taking off is high, considering the long weekend. A friend and colleague of mine had the same thoughts when she called for her team meeting. The meeting went uneventfully until she came to the last agenda - Leaves

She had thought of this long and hard; an easy way, was to ignore that there were long leaves that can be availed since her team members had not approached her for leave, so she could plan assuming business as-usual - why unnecessarily give them ideas?; on the other hand, it was inevitable that many may want to avail leave at the last minute where either she would have to disapprove their leaves or have slippage in her plan

Being the good Manager she was, she decided to throw the ball in the teams court

"How many of you have plans to take off in August? We need to plan our work accordingly" she 
bravely asked

The moment she uttered 'off' the energy levels changed. There was excitement in the air and everyone was talking animatedly. She did expect this; she also expected all her team to apply for leave

"I know everyone is going to apply for leave. It would be a joke when I go to Management and say my entire team is on leave!", she thought. The only comfort she had was that her teams key deliveries would be over much before August but it still would be an embarrassment which she had to face for her teams sake!

"I need leave for the 4 days" said one of her team members

"I too need off" said another

"Hmmm.... I am not sure whether I need... I don't have any plans... no I don't need it" said the third, overwhelmed by the options

She sighed in relief, at least it is not going to be the entire team!

"I don't need leave now, I have something planned later this year" said the fourth member

She went around the table and to her surprise only 3 of her team members wanted leave! She wouldn't need to talk to Management, it would be business as-usual in August

She discussed this incident with me. How often do we end up assuming group behavior especially assuming the negative? Most of the time!

Every time I discuss a change in the way of working, I almost always hear people taking a negative stand - What if this happens? What if that happens?

We debate on 'n+1' number of negative alternatives and try to address the exceptions in the process rather than addressing the common flow. This stems from the fact of mistrust and when there is mistrust in the environment, you would be proved right!

In the above case, she braved against the common fear and won the trust of her team - everyone was contended that they were given a choice. Transparency and consensus does help in building strong teams

Monday, July 1, 2013

Is impatience becoming a virtue?

11:17:00 PM

"I like a job where there are a lot of changes and travel across the globe", said a friend who was looking for an alternate career after his service in the military

"This is not the kind of work I signed up for. I like dynamism - solve a problem here, solve a problem there...", said a colleague of mine

"I am the kind who is innovative. I can start off something great but then I get bored soon, so I need constant change" another friend said proudly, as if it was his right to wash off his hands mid-way since he is a self proclaimed 'innovator'

I've been lately hearing such comments from friends, colleagues and even college pass-outs! It is but a matter of self esteem to declare that one is impatient...

Is this cultural or merely the modern generation with low tolerance or is it escapism?

Some confuse impatience for aggressiveness and 'learn to become impatient', since aggressiveness is considered as a virtue for business acumen; there is a reason that these are two different words in the English dictionary

Success however is all about implementation as much and much more than innovation!

Learn implementation; learn from China. Their method is very militaristic- the Leader commands and the rest implement - no questions asked. This makes the execution extremely strong. The leaps and bounds in their economy talk for themselves - they being a $9 Trillion and we at $2 Trillion

Of course they have their own fall backs and the militaristic model may not be sustainable. However the power of implementation is something that we need to learn from our neighbors

With more and more of us lacking patience to see things through, we would falter in our journey. A small aberration of impatience could cost our country dear

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Is morality conditioned by group behavior?

11:41:00 PM

Until last week, my office was spread across two facilities in the Tech Park and we had to constantly shuttle around these two facilities. The move to a new single facility was a welcome decision for everyone, as it would ease communication among projects & improve efficiency. Further we were moving to a new 10 storey building, where we would occupy the entire 4th floor; an added advantage was that it was next to food court!

As per plan, we moved yesterday; I walked up to the elevators in the ground floor (GF) - there were 8 of them. I waited patiently as elevator after elevator came filled with people from Upper and Lower Basement (LB). At last I managed to squeeze in

Lunch time came and seeing everyone in our floor moving towards the elevator, we, a group of four, tried to take the stairs, only to find that it was locked and the security personnel refused to open it. The only way out was the elevators

Our premonition guided us to quickly push through the crowd and stand right next to the elevators. The nearest was in the 7th floor and it was halting at every floor, when it reached the 4th floor, needless to say it was packed and I could almost visualize people taking a deep breath before the door closed. The other elevators were on 10th, 3rd and various other floors

Our patience was running out... my friend suggested, why don't we go up the 'almost crowded' elevator, so that we could travel back to the ground floor. I strongly opposed the idea on grounds of morality... we waited, waited and waited... finally chucking our morality, we got into an elevator which was going up. We traveled all the way to 9th floor with only one or two people actually alighting; we stopped at each floor amidst glaring people waiting for the lift and traveled all the way down again stopping at each floor. My friend looked at me in triumph with an expression that meant "Look I told You!". It had taken us 20 minutes to reach the ground floor... no kidding

Once we were done with our break, we observed crowds of people getting into the lift which was going to Lower Basement... being wiser now, we decided to employ our clever trick and joined the group... when it reached LB, there were a group of people waiting for us to alight the lift, but not one of us alighted. It then dawned on us that none of the co-passengers intended to go to LB, they were all using our strategy

So while leaving for the day, we felt less guilty to apply the same strategy. I pleasantly asked around if this was the situation or if our company's movement had caused this imbalance

"My office is in the 2nd floor and I most often travel all the way to 10th to reach the Ground Floor" was a young man's reply

Applying this strategy, we had reduced our time to reach GF from 20 minutes to 10 minutes sans the guilt of 'lack of morality'

This got me thinking of how the 4000 odd employees behavior in this building was conditioned to suit the environment. The same happens to an organization in the name of Organization Culture. Everyone contributes to it, yet it is from no single person. I felt my behavior immoral in the morning; by evening I was conditioned to think otherwise

How does one change this group behavior? Is there a way to make people follow order and only use the right elevator, given the same constraint of no staircase? The issue may be trivial but answer to this will be the solution to change negative organizational behaviors haunting companies

Monday, May 27, 2013

Does the needs of many outweigh the needs of the few?

11:19:00 PM

A friend of mine posted this question "Does the needs of many outweigh the needs of a few?" What do you think?

Surprisingly I found many agreed that the needs of the many outweighs that of the few, in fact this was even associated to Rewards and Recognition system

Consider a situation where you have a large team whose overall performance varies from average to just above average; on the other hand you have a smaller team which has consistently performed well - but they form a smaller portion of your organization. If you apply the above principle, it would be wiser to reward the larger team, as a larger portion of the company would end up with a higher morale after the awards ceremony

While this may sound logical and many Senior Manager's opts this method in the hope to reduce attrition & improve team morale - in reality this has the opposite effect on the organization. The team which performed well feels disadvantaged they would realize 'no matter how we perform, the result would be the same - so why sweat it out?'

The larger teams' Manager would rejoice - he would, with all probability, like to believe he has done a good job; however the team knowing better, understands there is no value in the reward and thinks either there was a political angle for the award or that the senior Management has no clue on the ground reality. Also, the team would think that this is the 'level of work' expected by the organization and would continue working on these lower standards - Thus a simple R&R has lowered the expected working standard of your organization!

If you apply the same principle to a society - where there are 8 thugs and 2 good men; what would be the greater good? Theft, murder, bribery? The 8 thugs would vouch that the 2 men are murdered, for the greater good, as there would be no one to report their misconducts!

So by blindly satisfying the needs of many, one only facilitates in degrading the society. Whether in projects or society one should take decisions based on Principles and not rules bent to satisfy situations

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Think twice before you pass a Judgement!!!

11:55:00 PM

A candidate for a news broadcasters post was rejected by officials since his voice was not fit for a news broadcaster. He was also told that with his obnoxiously long name, he would never be famous

He is Amitabh Bachchan


A small boy - the fifth amongst seven siblings of a poor father, was selling newspapers in a small village to earn his living. He was not exceptionally smart at school but was fascinated by religion and rockets. The first rocket he built crashed. A missile that he built crashed multiple times and he was made a butt of ridicule. He is the person to have scripted the Space Odyssey of India single-handedly

- Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam


In 1962, four nervous young musicians played their first record audition for the executives of the Decca recording Company. The executives were not impressed. While turning down this group of musicians, one executive said, "We don't like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out"

The group was called The Beatles


In 1944, Emmeline Snively, director of the Blue Book Modeling Agency told modeling hopeful Norma Jean Baker, "You'd better learn secretarial work or else get married." She went on and became

....Marilyn Monroe


In 1954, Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, Fired a singer after one performance. He told him, "You ain't going nowhere....son. You ought to go back to driving a truck." He went on to become

....Elvis Presley


When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he tried over 2000 experiments before he got it to work. A young reporter asked him how it felt to fail so many times. He said, "I never failed once. I invented the light bulb. It just happened to be a 2000-step process"


When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, it did not ring off the hook with calls from potential backers. After making a demonstration call, President Rutherford Hayes said, "That's an amazing invention, but who would ever want to see one of them?"


In the 1940s, another young inventor named Chester Carlson took his idea to 20 corporations, including some of the biggest in the country. They all turned him down. In 1947, after 7 long years of rejections, he finally got a tiny company in Rochester, NY, the Haloid company, to purchase the rights to his invention -- an electrostatic paper copying process. Haloid became Xerox Corporation


A little girl - the 20th of 22 children, was born prematurely and her survival was doubtful. When she was 4 years old, she contracted double pneumonia and scarlet fever, which left her with a paralysis left leg. At age 9, she removed the metal leg brace she had been dependent on and began to walk without it. By 13 she had developed a rhythmic walk, which doctors said was a miracle. That same year she decided to become a runner. She entered a race and came in last. For the next few years every race she entered, she came in last. Everyone told her to quit, but she kept on running. One day she actually won a race. And then another. From then on she won every race she entered. Eventually this little girl

Wilma Rudolph, went on to win three Olympic gold medals


A school teacher scolded a boy for not paying attention to his mathematics and for not being able to solve simple problems. She told him that you would not become anybody in life. The boy was Albert Einstein


--- compiled from an unknown source

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Management from our barber's?

12:25:00 PM

I like my hair short… cut really short… the liking may be deep rooted, arising from the fact of my laziness to comb… having short hair has soo many advantages such as less “maintenance” time, looks more tidy, lesser “round trip” time to the barber’s shop, etc. (meet me and I can tell you at least a 100 more reasons!)

For the past couple of month’s I have been regularizing on a barber near my place. Due to my fantasy to cut my hair short, not many barbers come forward with enthusiasm, for they are unable to try out their “fantasies/creativity”. Of the three barbers available in the nearby shop, I usually end up with the youngest… probably around 16 yrs (talk about encouraging child labor)… by my deduction, this happens due to the simple fact, that, my hair requires not much creativity!!!

As many other businesses, this shop also does not run just on the “main line” of hair stylist but has other premium services such as hair massaging, anti dandruff treatment, removing black spots, etc

Coming back to my story, for the last three months, as mentioned, I always happened to end up with the youngest barber… he is very quick at his job, should I say, a petite hair mower… the only problem with our young hero is that, he has a mind of his own, of course nothing wrong with that, but it hurts when our preferences crosses… after all its my hair, not his!

Our young hero is usually more interested in wooing me to take up his premium “services”. During my hair cut, every 5 minutes or so, he would say “Sir, I’ll do hair massage, it’ll be nice” and with my broken kannada, I say “That’s ok, some other time” and our hero proceeds to pester “Sir it’ll be very nice, soothing and relaxing” and I say “No time” and he says “It won’t take long, I’ll do it real quick” (and I think, if its that quick, then why go for a short lived happiness, eh!). After couple of cross rebuttals, he quickly completes my hair cut, unties the cloth wrapped around me and ushers the next person in line (probably in the hope that, that guy will go for his premium services).

I put on my glasses; see myself in the mirror and voice out my opinion, that, he can still trim my hair. Our young hero replies “Sir, it’s correct, else you will not have any hair to comb”. Being a gentleman I am (at least I like to think that way), I feel too rude to continue the argument, especially since the next Customer has got up and is waiting for me to embark the “priced” chair, so I silently accept defeat.

This happened to me for around three times and my dissatisfaction became stronger each time… I had mentally made a note to try out a different barber, the following month…

The following month (two weeks back), as luck would have it, I get up at 10 and am rushed for time, so I end up in the same shop.

Our young hero was busy with another Customer, so I forcibly enthroned myself on the oldest barber’s (possible the owner) chair. He listened to my simple specification (had our young hero ever listened to my specification?!) and he started his work. Towards the end, he hinted to me about the other available “premium” services and even before I could decline, he said that I could have those things done whenever I wished to (he probably noticed my body language and knew my answer).

I was quite relieved at the way he had handled the selling of “premium” services, instead of pestering me. To add the icing to the cake, after he had done with my hair, he handed me my spectacles (which is usually placed on the table during the hair cut) and asked me if I was satisfied. This was the first time a barber had the “thoughtfulness” to have handed my spectacles and then, asked if I was satisfied. Usually almost everywhere, my barbers used to ask me, somewhere towards the fag end of the hair cut, if I was satisfied and I used to think, doesn’t this guy understand that I can only give a better judgment if I wear my specs and should I go through the embarrassment of picking up and wearing my spectacles???

But here was a barber,
1. Who knew exactly how much to push his Customer and
2. Could literally put himself in his Customer’s shoes and offer me my spectacles (he doesn’t wear one, so it was his thoughtfulness)

I was more than happy with the services that he had offered and needless to say, he had listened to my “specifications” and had done just what I wanted (no unnecessary improvations!)

This reminded me of the Kano model. The young boy could not even meet up to the basic needs of meeting the Implied and Expected Needs, not to say about the Delighting Needs! The old man had met all the three… to me “no pushy sale” was the Implied Need, “hair cut to my expectation” was the Expected Need and the final show of “thoughtfulness” met the Delighting Need!

How are we, as individuals, meeting the Implied, Expected and the Delighting needs of our Customer’s? This is a worthy point for each of us to ponder over, whatever be our role...

My next line of thought was, if I ran this business, how would I assess the performance of these three barbers? Would it be by

1. Who does the most number of hair cuts?
2. Whose conversion rate of ordinary to premium customer was the highest?

If I have just these as my parameters to assess their performance, I would have been sending a wrong message to the three barbers! You can see how misleading the above two measurements by themselves would have been. They almost lost a Customer and we do not know how many others have already left! Focusing on these measurements may have brought in short term profits but would have failed in Customer Retention and Long Term Sustainability.

The question that struck me was: which would be the most appropriate way to assess their performance??? A Customer Satisfaction Survey? But how many Customer’s will have the patience to provide such a feedback? Well that’s a separate topic by itself, so I leave that as “Food for thought” for all the readers to contemplate… Bon thinking…
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