September 28, 2015 , 11:26 am

Org Structures: Pyramids to Control Towers?


  Organizational structures, both for-profit and not-for-profit, have often been likened to pyramids.  This was obviously driven by the number of people at the bottom versus the top.  Interestingly though, today’s organizations have begun resembling pyramids in other important features: 1.       They are designed to connect layer-by-layer – meaning there is no direct connection between […]
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September 30, 2013 , 6:10 pm



Management lore is full of praise for team work.  Indeed, it is not only unpolitic, but absolutely unacceptable today to say I will go against team consensus.  Having benefited fully from conventional wisdom and “good Management education”, I confess being an aggressive team player; to the extent that I have always looked down upon the […]
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December 2, 2012 , 10:56 am

Integrity Policies: Intent & Practice


A recent conversation about Integrity Policies of large corporations had me fuming!  Big companies love strict policies that prohibit their managers from taking that sixty dollar pen from a client on Christmas.  Unfortunately, in many cases, that is about the biggest impact the policy makes on the company’s societal behavior. The policies one sees commonly […]
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August 5, 2012 , 8:55 am

Changing the CTQ (Critical To Quality)


Wonder if you’ve heard or read about CTQ.  It is a critical part of six sigma jargon and you are unlikely to find anyone who is familiar with six sigma and is not aware of this term.  It’s short for Critical To Quality.  However, few people outside the esoteric world of six sigma have heard […]
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April 15, 2012 , 6:47 pm

Leaders vs. Successful People


Did you notice how all successful people seem to qualify as “Leaders”?   Leadership seminars often invite personally successful people, even though they may not have led more than their housemaid.  We see many presentations on leadership carrying quotable quotes from “successful leaders” that include the likes of Pele, Albert Einstein and Shah Rukh Khan (Bollywood […]
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November 1, 2011 , 2:37 pm

Less Known Leadership Qualities


We all know that Leadership defies formulas – despite the myriad books and articles that keep trying to sell us the newest and latest.  Personally, I’d rather celebrate the great variety of leaders and leadership styles.  For, just as I am internalizing the great qualities of one leader, comes along another, who has anything but […]
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September 20, 2011 , 3:07 pm

Customer Service and Brand Promise


I recently experienced a different kind of customer service.  This was at a popular Italian restaurant called Zachary’s Chicago Pizza in Berkeley, CA.  The place is known for its ‘Chicago-style deep dish pizza’.  It was not a big restaurant; just one big hall with a parapet wall running all along the side, leaving a narrow […]
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July 11, 2011 , 8:10 am

Excellence of a different kind…


This happened in Hyderabad, India… My friend from Dubai is on a visit and has a serious stomach upset, thanks to indulging himself in some of this city’s spicy local food.   I take him to the private clinic of a popular local physician.  We find a long line of patients waiting for the Doc’s attention. […]
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April 13, 2011 , 5:35 pm

Operations Excellence in Malaysia


Let me share with you some instances of operations excellence I witnessed in Malaysia.  All in the public sector or Government offices. The first was a couple of years ago.  I was delivering a session on Customer Service in the Public Sector to an international group of senior public sector officials at The National Institute […]
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March 27, 2011 , 11:06 am

Tackling Your Organizational Culture


I had an appointment with the Head of HR & Learning of a prominent listed company recently.  Upon announcing myself at the reception, I was told that ‘somebody’ will come down to escort me to the meeting room.  I waited.  Soon a presentable young lady showed up to take me to the meeting room.Just as […]
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February 5, 2011 , 2:09 pm

The Four Wheels of Process


Ever wondered what could be the basic building blocks of a business process, the wheels that make it run?  Considering the predominant position processes have in our lives today, it is a concept that certainly deserves some attention. In one sense, the good old SIPOC (Supplier, Input, Process, Output, Customer) may be said to represent […]
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January 12, 2011 , 5:26 pm

VISION — Oops! There I go again!


I find I am not done with the vision thing!  So, this is a follow-up to my previous post! Once we separate Stab (stating the obvious) visions and Real visions, vision and strategy become quite intertwined.  Yes, vision is still the distant objective; and strategy more the “how” of achieving that vision in the shortest, simplest […]
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November 27, 2010 , 9:56 am

The Vision Thing – Taking a stab at it!


Having a “Vision” is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for success.  Not necessary, because there are hundreds of organizations that do not have a ‘vision’ – at least formally — and have yet been hugely successful; the ‘dabbawalas of Bombay come to mind.  Similarly, there are an equal number of organizations ‘sporting’ elaborate vision […]
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August 22, 2010 , 12:54 pm

Exit Interviews and Reference Checks


This post actually takes off from Rajan’s comment on my last post, “When the good guys leave…”.   I also use it as a segue to the related issue of Reference Checks. First, to respond to Rajan: Your experience does (unfortunately) correspond with some of mine as well and it is definitely not too far […]
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August 3, 2010 , 5:51 pm

When the good guys leave…


Of all the miseries that can dog the pursuit of Operations Excellence, surely the worst is high attrition – good guys leaving! I would rate it even above good customers leaving! Firstly, it is a sign that employees have lost faith in management. It is an indictment that the top management is either totally unaware […]
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Time for change! Being trained as a Master Black Belt in six sigma and calling one self an operations professional has it’s share of burdens. Like, you are expected to be a devotee, defender or even fanatic of the six sigma methodology. But, the more leaders I meet, the more I am convinced that Six […]
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You would have heard the Term “Heavy Hitter” if you’ve worked in an American company.  Some others use the simpler “Big Guy”.  Typically used in an Operations context (and hence my interest), these are Managers who head and manage large teams – read head count or FTE.  I heard of these and, possibly, even used […]
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April 16, 2010 , 5:51 pm

The Power of Feedback


Feedback is one of the most under-utilized tools of leadership! There is, of course, lots of literature on customer feedback and how that helps product development, relationship management and the like; but precious little on its importance in Performance Management, and therefore on the criticality of feedback in leadership training.  Now, I would not be […]
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October 27, 2009 , 4:33 pm

Staying with Operations Excellence…

The last time we were here, I said, “The surprising thing about execution is that it is very, very simple. Any one can do it.  And that is the problem! It is very, very boring.”  So how does one handle this situation?  The first – and simplest – is when an ‘activist board’ takes control to decide […]
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September 15, 2009 , 1:54 pm

“Operations Excellence”

Nice buzz word, that! Never fails to capture the interest of the CEO! Every one seeks Ops Excellence. However, most managers have no clue on how to achieve it. The real reason is, they haven’t really explored its meaning in detail. A quick search for the definition of the term on Google reveals thousands of […]
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August 31, 2009 , 2:05 pm

A Key Performance issue: Design of KPIs

Working on performance issues of a Dutch MNC in Malaysia.Issues are (of course) more Malaysian than Dutch. The big ones?– One, KPIs are loosely defined… basically each Manager is left to set their own KPIs for their team. There’s no ‘roll-up’ in to the company’s objecitves – at least the’s no process or system to […]
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I think the essence of change that is accepted and adopted is that it is desired by the “Changee” – not the changer.  We all like to change.  But we want to change at OUR pace, in the direction WE like.  We do not want the other guy telling us what to change to. Unfortunately […]
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November 6, 2008 , 4:38 pm

Change we like!

Guess its the right time to talk about change!With Obama winning so handily on that platform!!… and “management experts” still talk of people’s resistance to change!I find that notion pretty ridiculous. How often have you worn the same shirt to work the next day? Isn’t that changing?My expert-brother tells me that’s not real change!So what […]
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March 27, 2008 , 6:30 pm

What is Asciance?

It starts with Asian Science — the wisdom, knowledge and practices that Asia brings to the world — and goes beyond I’ll be writing about: Performance… the Asian way – the soft way Change… people love change – they DO NOT resist it Learning… how it is at the heart of making Change happen Leadership… […]
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