Sunday, May 25, 2008

Values and Beliefs - Their rightful place

I generally hate writing in my personal blog about the clients that I work for. This time I’m going to make a small exception, but then I won’t be mentioning names.

We read about vision, mission and values and how they form the core of the strategic road map for any company. Then there are companies who say something on their website and do something else at their offices. A lot more companies develop values in a vacuum. Stop an employee on his way to the cafeteria and ask him about the vision and values of his company and you’ll find him searching empty gray cells. And then there are these repulsive value statements that are created just to form the perfect acronym.

It’s refreshing to find among a plethora of companies that just have no clue about what to do with their value statements, one Indian company that says it and practices its values with great conviction. One company where every employee nods his head when brought to the topic of values and beliefs. One company that does not need the perfect acronym for its employees to remember the whole list. One company that has shaped the organizational culture around its values & beliefs and year after year measures its employee’s performance on adherence to those values and beliefs.

Apart from their commitment and the fact that they have been able to inculcate a strong culture in the organization quite early on, the one thing that has brought me to write this post is some of their interesting value statements.

Humility – While the statement on their website simply talks about respecting intellect and disliking false pride, the way it is cascaded to employees is more about accepting what you don’t know and learning from the one who knows.

Respect for the Individual – treat people with dignity, sensitivity and honor. Employees are measured on their conduct when they interact with other people on the job.

On the outside these are values you would find on a number of value statements, but if you look at the company legacy you would realize how this suddenly makes sense for them. How do you deal with culture in an organization that has a mix of employees, right from baby-boomers to generation Y? Help the baby-boomers to demonstrate humility and the generation Y to inculcate respect for the individual!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bush and the thing in his mouth

How can one be proud being the citizen of a country where the president… for heaven’s sake not his press secretary, not his vice-president, not his dog, but the president… says things like this about another country?

''There are 350 million people in India who are classified as middle class. Their middle class is larger than our entire population. And when you start getting wealth, you start demanding better nutrition and better food. And so demand is high, and that causes the price to go up.''

Mr. President, during the time that you managed to put your foot in your mouth and also managed to read up that we have around 350 million people (which btw is quite a high estimate, the actual number is 200 million) classified as middle class, didn’t you bother to look up some of the facts about your own country’s eating habits?

“American obesity rates are highest in the world with 64% of adults being overweight or obese, and almost a quarter being obese. Estimates of the number of obese American adults have been rising steadily, from 19.4% in 1997, 24.5% in 2004 to 26.6% in 2007.”

That means that every fourth American you meet is obese and out of every five Americans you meet at least three will be overweight! Well, Mr. President, if you turn to your team of experts they will be able to explain to you the most important cause for obesity - eating too many calories.

While still on the topic of rising food and oil prices, we Indians have something to add. There are 192 million people in the United States who are classified as overweight. Their overweight population is as large as our (Indian) middle class population. When you are overweight, you need more calories to sustain normal energy and maintain daily activities. And so the demand is high and that causes the price to go up. It doesn’t end there. Obese and overweight Americans need more fuel to transport them and the food they eat, hence the increasing energy prices!

PS: Inspired by this and this

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I'm parked here.

I’ve thought for over a year… and I realize that there is no other way to do it other than starting afresh. I couldn’t continue from where I had left as if nothing had changed. A lot has changed – and it’s not just about being in love, getting married, moving out of the country, being out of a job, playing a housewife or eventually coming back. Life and style can no more be just about me. Considering all the ridiculous things I’ve written so far and how my frame of reference has changed both internally and externally, I do need a better parking space.