How to Tell Your Boss He’s Wrong

Hi readers,

This blog has come about after a lot of introspection about my experience with start ups in Africa and India.

Whether its a product based start up or a technology start up, the dynamics remain just the same, irrespective of the vertical, the geography, or the people who were the founders !

So let me build up this piece like a story…

I was recently hired in a sales leadership role, to which I was bringing deep experience. Over the first few weeks, I gathered data and information, which led me to conclude that my territory was doomed to failure (as it had previously failed) if we followed our company’s current strategy. Since I reported directly to the CEO, I wrote him a professional report explaining why the current strategy would fail, what should change, and how the firm would benefit from that change, with a detailed cost/benefit analysis. The CEOs response was: “I felt you were criticizing me!” Everything went downhill from there and I was canned. The way I saw it, I had a choice between speaking up and losing my job in three months, or being quiet and losing my job in six. 

So what do you think my options were in this classic situation where I was caught between the devil and the deep sea??

I think personally you dont need to  use your “deep experience” in sales to sell your ideas in these tricky situations. Your CEO would obviously feel that you were criticizing him because… actually you were criticizing him!

The fact that your argument was compelling, and backed with a cost/benefit analysis, just makes the situation worse. No wonder you get canned. That is lousy salesmanship!

Suppose you had a customer that was doing something stupid and hadn’t yet figured out what was wrong. How successful do you think that you’d be selling to that customer if you opened your cycle by sending them a detailed report that said: “You’ve been doing stupid things, and you’ve been too stupid to figure that out, and here’s what you need to do differently?”

Ideally, the best way to get around your CEO in these sort of situations is to treat him like your prized customer and here’s how it would possible look like.

TEP 1. Lay the Groundwork. Spend one-on-one time with the boss, finding areas where he is open to new ideas and planting seeds of discontent with the current strategy. Ask questions like: “Why did this strategy fail in the past?” “What other strategies have you considered?” and “What strategy might we pursue if this strategy doesn’t pan out?” This is, of course, very basic consultative sales theory.

STEP 2. Offer a Face-saving Alternative. Give the boss an excuse to change strategies without looking like an idiot. Blame changes in the outside world that have suddenly made the current strategy financially impractical, rather accusing the boss of persistent wooden headedness. Example: “Due to rapidly changing market conditions, our current strategy will require an additional $25 million in marketing to guarantee success.”

STEP 3. Transfer Ownership of the New Strategy. Package your new idea as something that the boss created, and which you have subsequently fleshed out into a practical alternative to the current strategy. Example: “As you suggested in our meeting on 6/20, the most viable alternative to our current strategy is… And here are some suggestions for implementing your backup plan…”

STEP 4. Present the Alternative in Person. Because the boss feels ownership of the current strategy, the alternative strategy should be presented face-to-face (or even lips-to-butt), so that you can better sense the boss’s reaction and help him make the transition. This is exactly like presenting your solution to a customer and then closing the deal.

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What is political conspiracy after all in India?

This goes out to all thinking men and women, those who are citizens of democracies, and also those who live in authoritarian regimes….this goes out to believers and atheistic alike….BUT most important it goes out to all those who are aware of basic human rights , its definition and the accountability of   people who are the helm of affairs, who are expected to protect and abide by the tenets of basic human rights.

I would like to begin with a little preamble – ever since I was little; must have been about 7 when my father, a senior Major in the Indian Army, introduced me to reading the newspaper on a regular basis. Since I had recently discovered the joys of reading at school, reading about interesting events , other than prose from William Shakespeare and poems by Robert Frost, was very welcome.

What has singularly stuck in my mind, through all those years of reading our newspapers has been a cliched statement made by our political class, whenever an criminal indictment was imminent, either by the judiciary, by the political opposition or by the thinking public. The phrase “its a political conspiracy to malign me” has reached sickening proportions today.

Circa 2013….

  • A sitting woman MP of the Congress Party gets aggressive at the press for inquiring from her about the whereabouts of her rapist husband , who is absconding from the law for the last 15 months and screams …”this is a political conspiracy!!!” ( AND May I mention, that her party does nothing to ensure sanctity of her seat by asking her to leave for protecting her rapist husband!!)
  • The chief minister of the state of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, goes berserk on the media, when they ask her about the increase in number of assault and rape cases in the state, after she took office. She screams hysterically …” Its apolitical conspiracy!!” (Does that ring a bell now…???)
  • PJ Kurien, Deputy Chairman of our temple of democracy, the Higher house of our parliament, has been named by a young woman as one of 40 men who raped her while she was forcibly held in custody, in 1997. Despite nation wide protest by women groups, despite the heart rending testimony of the victim, who has fought a court battle against this slimy politician for 15 years, this “upholder” of our democratic values, this “law maker” , is refusing to give up his seat , citing ….what else…”it is a political conspiracy!!!!” ( AND the congress party is still contemplating what to do next, …at the same claiming to represent the mass of people in India???)

NOW as A COMMONER in India…my open question to the ENTIRE POLITICAL CLASS IS…

IS NOT THE FACT THAT IN OUR COUNTRY, 60 % OF THE POPULATION IS ILLITERATE, AND POOR , EVEN AFTER 65 YEARS OF “DEMOCRATIC” RULE ( NOT GOVERNANCE, BECAUSE THERE WAS NONE) A BONA FIDE POLITICAL CONSPIRACY???

Now I dare you all to say….that when I confront you with this one example of a REAL POLITICAL CONSPIRACY…..This citation itself is a Political Conspiracy!!!

Your thoughts please…..

Priceless contribution of our political class- “law will take its course”

The events of today have added another sterling achievement in the annals of our democracy, where the word, “liberal” has been taken to a very different elevated level.

Lets start with a brief mention of the background to this story-

Some weeks back, those of us in urban India, well educated, were rudely jolted, when national media went ballistic on the leader of a Muslim party, with strong fundamentalist and religious leanings, and broadcast a speech made by its leader to a wildly cheering audience, extolling them to rise against the state- in short , it was sedition in open view and open knowledge.

Had it not been for the media. there would have been no case registered against this rabble rousing leader and he would not have been put behind bars. Finally it did happen, after a lot of foot dragging my the police and the politicians alike, and largely due to public and media pressures, this leader was finally put behind bars…

Today, we find his doppelganger, his fundamentalist counterpart from the Hindu majority in this country, who addresses a similar bunch of ,Hindu,  illiterate, largely rural, unemployed folk, who were cheering at every anti muslim rant he was spewing on the dais. The irony is that there was police presence during this event and they were mute spectators to the entire nonsense that was in full public view!

It left many questions unanswered-

  • Why didnt the police arrest this Hindu fundamentalist while he was making this speech?
  • Why didnt they arrest him AFTER he finished his speech?
  • Why does it take the national media to bring this to the notice of the educated , thinking class?
  • It this not seditious? Is this not a crime that needs to be dealt with , decisively and firmly?
  • Where is the disconnect here? Is this man allowed to do this in the guise of his democratic right? Does this not pale in front of the higher law that abhors sedition and creating communalism in our country?

It is deafening to hear the Finance minister talk about “law taking its own course” to take this guy down and deal with him with the contempt that he deserves.

Alas, I also see the reality that stares me at my face-

I constitute the unimportant , non-voting minority of educated professionals, who, if they vote, will not really matter in the vote bank driven “democracy” of ours…what will really matter is what the vast, uneducated, rural voters think and vote for, what makes them tick, and unfortunately , even after 65 years of independence, it is only issues , raised by rabble rousers, that make the large voting majority to stand up and take notice, completely oblivious to their real needs, which is education for all children especially the girl child, security for the girl child, inclusive growth, access to finance, access to amenities, access to healthcare.

This is the result of “law taking its own course” over the last 65 years.

Kudos to our political class!!

Priceless Contribution of our political class- fundamentalists in a secular democracy!

This goes out to all enlightened Indians, across the globe, and definitely in India.

I hope that these series that I propose to write regularly as the contribution of our political class will become a platform for serious debate on what has really transpired under the guise of “parliamentary democracy” for the past 65 years.

These thoughts in these blogs are also meant to highlight the reality of the Indian democratic system and its evolution ( de-generation) over the past 65 years.

Thoughts, inputs, and ideas are very welcome, obviously.

Today Kamal Hassan made a heart rending appeal to his fans and the common man , demonstrating his utter helplessness to fight a political heavy , and skewed system, that will not even listen to independent thought leaders, and will use power to buttress power brokers, and illiterate voting populations ( ever heard of the VOTE BANK…if you haven’t , it exists in India, and has been nurtured for the past 65 years by the political class by keeping these voting banks, illiterate, un-educated and on the fringes of poverty and deprivation…cool strategy hunh!!)

His latest movie, VISHWAROOPAM, has been embroiled in controversy, which was ostensibly started by a fringe Muslim group, protesting the depiction of terrorists as being from the Muslim faith!! This was ably fanned by political class of ALL hues!!

Now the question you must ask, is why did ALL political parties start supporting the muslim protesters–……well, didn’t I just tell you about voting banks!! NONE of these political leeches, would wanna fritter away the opportunity to get the muslim vote now ..isnt it ?

So here is this artist, who should have freedom of expression of interest under our “democratic” constitution and institutions, BUT has to run around the courts of the land to scree his film, whose future has been hijacked by a few protesting muslims, supported by the political class, who have kept these muslims illiterate for the past 65 years, and the muslims dont even realize who is to blame for their pathetic situation, and are therefore for lack of any substantial cause in life, take to the street, at the behest of their equally illiterate, uneducated leaders to protest an assault on their religion!!!

Is this convoluted or what!!

Has not this country not been converted to a dignified banana republic in a matter of 65 years , and its potential quashed by the political class through the following INITIATIVES… (Yes folks ..the following are the ONLY INITIATIVES that the political class have been serious about , since taking our rule from the British and ruling this country..)

  • Siphoning off tax payers money into overseas accounts.
  • Converting money laundering ( tax payers and bribe money) into an art and a science ( Mafia , eat your heart out, come to the academy of the Indian political class, and they will teach you tricks you didnt even know existed )
  • Using graft and bribe money to buy into vote banks- over and over and over again, till death did them part from their office!
  • Dodging responsibility by converting “passing the buck” to an art and a science- slippery as an eel has a different level in India and for the political class.
  • Turning QUID PRO QUO to an art and science- One political party uses state instruments, which are supposed to be independent, as gatherers of dirty secrets on political opponents, and leveraged to ensure that their very own dirty secrets are never revealed by their opponents, should they come to power in the veneer of our democratic institutions!! So all these political parties, the political class know each other dirtiest of secrets and make for a perfect understanding under classic quid pro quo terms!!

While the political class has ensured its continuity into geriatric politics, they have deliberately done nothing about investing in educating the teeming uneducated masses, that remain uneducated, illiterate to the day. This has proven beneficial to them in many ways, most notably these illiterates have lost the faculty to think rationally and analyze logically, laying them open to emotional and casteist exploitation by the political class over 65 years….the nest result, ready to use, ready made , illiterate , fundamentalists in our secular democracy!!

If there ever was a strategy that worked for you this would be it !! Kudos to our Indian political class!!

 

Does the world community see us as an emerging power?

Hi readers,

I read about the request made by the Government of India to extradite Headley, the LeT terrorist to India for trial, and it was turned down.

Am I surprised, ….no.

This is what I expected the US government , OR any other government to do , in their right mind.

The Indian government probably had some hope of extradition from governments that are classified right along  their like- which is qualified BANANA REPUBLIC.

This bit of news has forced me to write again on the subject,  of India’s rightful place in the league of nations, and the dream state that the rules ( NOT Leaders) of India have been for the past 65 years, and especially over the time that we have “reformed” the economy!!!

Now lets analyze the reality of our nation today.

Our political class are experts at selling, presumed greatness of our nation, based on the polite references to our greatness by economic powers of the developed world.

This presumption of our greatness is often based on our being “the worlds largest democracy”- meaning that in a nation of 1.2 billion, by some stroke of luck, the 50% of our illiterate, oppressed people, accept their lot in life, accept poor governance as god send, accept rulers as leaders, AND  yet have never risen up in open revolt against a political class that has not delivered in 65 years!!

These oppressed people dont possess the analytical skills to even contemplate that there could be other choices, apart from voting for casteist, no performing, criminals who call themselves messiahs of these people who they wish to exploit, and have been exploiting over the past 65 years!! So these poor wretches vote for these same non performing criminals, over and over and over again, for generations, as if in limbo. Funny thing is that this practice of voting for one criminal politician runs into generations, where the son takes over from the father and continues to perpetrate a dynasty!!

Just because we are able to manage democratic elections, in a country beset with serious development issues ( actually non development issues), with obvious, glaring disparities, we get a polite ear with the real democracies of the west and this gives our political system ( and most important the criminal political class) the legitimacy to sit among the league of nations.

I can totally understand where my American friends would be  coming from- the Americans are very polite ( polite to a fault , I would say), and this politeness serves them well. 

However, our political class, made up of crass, morally corrupt politician, coming from a high context culture, aspiring to lead India as  the next United States,  buy into the politeness of the western democracies ( they are desperate to buy into that!!, please note this ), and translate that as their triumph as a “great” nation to the  the millions of uneducated hopefuls in India. 

Remember , in my earlier blogs , I did mention that HOPE has become the opium of the Indian masses, and this has been very efficiently exploited by the political class and its public services system, that serves the political classes, and not the masses, at it was meant to be in the first place.

So to answer the main question- Does the world community see us as an emerging power? 

the answer is an EMPHATIC NO! Nyet!! Not happening!!

We are seen for who we really are, a glorified , BANANA REPUBLIC, ruled ( not lead, or managed ) by loathsome, sleazy, daft BUT self serving politicians, who will comfortably exploit the pacifist DNA and the HOPE ( Opium of the Indian masses) to their advantage, and in reality get clobbered in the real world.

 

And oh yes…lest we forget, the Indian justice system is a joke- if we take $ 10 million to try a terrorist like Kasab on taxpayers money, and then finally hang him ….the Americans know that giving Headley to the Indians, would probably mean that either he will escape from the Police Van, or he will be exchanged for a hostage, or one of our Indian muslim ministers will ask for clemency in the name of islam, or the ruling “secular” party will plead for his clemency!!

So..is India an emerging power, GO FIGURE!!

NOTE- After the brutal gang rape of that brave heart girl in Decemebr 2012, we are already in justice loop hole territory, with suspects asking for re-trials because they are “innocent” juveniles, police alluding to “rule of law” etc etc….do you still have faith in our useless justice system? and should the world community have any faith as well??

Saga of Godmen, Guile and Guilt

It is pathetic to watch the self proclaimed god man and spiritual leader , Asa Ram Bapu addressing his flock of followers, 50% women, and speaking utter crap against women and their rights in India, with his women congregation listening to every word of his in rapt attention- absorbing each and every word , every syllable of his, as if they were pearls of wisdom from GOD himself!!!

You have to wonder whether these women in the congregation even comprehend the meaning of what Asa Ram is saying with such conviction??

Do they even understand what Asa Ram means when he says that a rape victim is to blame for the crime if she does not invoke the name of GOD in front of her rapists and does not plead with them to spare her????!!!!

The implication of this self proclaimed god man’s utterances and the enormity of what he says, so nonchalant , will make any sane , educated man numb!

What is even more bewildering is the dazed, almost hypnotized look on the women in the congregation- to be able to get an entire congregation in such a state at one go , seems nothing short of a miracle.

Isnt it a miracle that this congregation of women are simply rooted to their seats, listening in rapt attention to the non sense being uttered so effortlessly by this self proclaimed holy man and absorbing that as verse from GOD.

As a saNe logical, educated individual, it is easy to see that this is  nothing short of a grand exercise in successfully beguiling an entire audience of targeted followers, by leveraging their illiteracy, ignorance, lack of education, economic and socially repressive backgrounds to lead them into a state of collective trance, where the entire congregation loses its capacity to think logically, and act appropriately!! TOUCH DOWN!!!

Do you really expect these women to come out into the streets to protest and demand their rightful and equal place in our society??

NOT IN A MILLION YEARS going by the realistic state of the country, its weak constitution and its corrupted , defiled democratic institutions AND an entire population of people , deliberately kept illiterate for 65 years.

NOW the next logical question would be..is there a sense of guilt in our leaders ( rulers, may I correct), the political class ( de facto, neo royalty in India), the godmen and spiritual leaders ( HOPE sales men), and wanna be politicians ( criminals, trying to get legit)???

NONE AT ALL!!!

Face it people, your future is doomed under this political class and its underlings!!!

Reasons why the current spate of protests in India will amount to nothing

It is heartening to see so many young protesters out in the streets of the major cities across India , venting their heart felt anger at the treatment of women in our country and the blatant impunity with which lumpen elements stalk our streets and sit in our parliament.

BUT these protesters do not realize that their is a logical reason why the politicians are not feeling the heat and will use time to their advantage- they will play the waiting game, pay lip service to addressing the grievances of the masses, shed crocodile tears in apparent solidarity with the protesters, and bide their time.

Reasons are the following

  1. The politicians who sit in our parliament proclaim their legitimacy on the votes of the largely rural population. The rural population, majority of whom live on less than $ 2 per day, poor, destitute, illiterate, poor educated, are easily misled by these politicians , who appeal to caste affiliations, promises (empty) of providing for better infrastructure in their constituencies, or buying their votes outright through cash and kind inducements, with free liquor thrown in for good measure! For poor destitute people, often HOPE is their undoing, and in their simple analysis, some one from their region or caste offers a relatively better chance of perhaps delivering on his promises. The politicians exploit this line of thinking and have been for the past 65 years. With no threat of right to recall, the politicians rest easy, that once the vote is in their favor , they need not really deliver, and in fact they control the sentiments of the voting population, by controlling the rate of development in their constituencies! For a population that has no reference benchmark, even a ramshackle toilet in the community, seems to be a solution straight out of star trek! and these simple folk are glad that they even have that, even if it means that the same toilet disintegrates into a shamble after 4 months of use, only to be rebuilt again with tax payers money (yours and mine) with the politician and contractor ( and perhaps the District magistrate) taking a huge cut! Its all part of the game. SO since those of us in urban centers, who are so vehemently protesting against the abomination that is Indian penal code, need to understand that since we constitute only 30% of the voting population, OUR vote does not really matter to these smug politicians…and hence they will play the waiting game till eternity…till they tire you out. As long as their voting base in the rural heartland of the country is NOT STIRRED into action, they have nothing to fear from your protests and your actions.
  2. We Indians, from across the country share some common traits. These are, accepting our lot in life ( perhaps because the real burden of earning a daily livelihood is such an endeavor, that it is like a chore and extremely demanding and it derails any traction that we may have generated) and seeking solace in GOD’s will! We  succumb very easily to platitudes and offer of solidarity given to us by our politicians, who we know, are not sincere ( we succumb  to HOPE! that they will finally deliver). We take any promise of action by our politicians at face value and leave an initiative that we started, mid way, unfinished ( the seedy politician will take this first opportunity to dump his actions mid way and at best set up a commission, using tax payers money, waste time , fattening themselves and judicial experts for years together, ultimately achieving nothing; by that time the issue would have dies of natural causes- death by delay)
  3. With an estimated 50% of all politicians, in every party, with criminal records, and rape cases, it is NOT in the interest of the political parties and the politicians to actually support stringent laws against offenders- for , it will mean, delisting and jailing their owned elected representatives, which will mean that they will be in the minority. The only solution would be that they implement 33% reservation for women in public office at the very least ( I personally think it should be 50%, since 50% of the population is women). Women, who in all probability will be more sincere, definitely not rapists and criminals, may disturb the chauvinist politicians in our system, who pretend to understand the angst of women in our country, but in reality are scared to give away their turf to women, who will perform better than them. SO the male politicians, ( and their women counterparts) will DO nothing to disturb the apple cart and the movement will eventually fail ( the women politicians will do nothing , because they are not really interested in pushing the envelope for real changes, and are here as mere rubber stamps, earning their share of the “spoils” and planning for their retirement and nurturing their children to take their mantle , when and if they finally retire!!)

This may sound cynical to a whole lot of optimistic folks out there, but personally this comes straight after travelling the world and living in various geographies and getting a sense of what democracy is really all about.

These are not the words of a cynic, but of a realist who sees the way democratic principles have been twisted by a corrupt, elitist, pseudo democratic class that in effect has “ruled” our country and NOT “led” them as model citizens.