Dec
21
Posted on 21-12-2014
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

That scientific, logical and creative challenge is essential for “Make in India” to take wing is what many of you, my valued readers, have written to agree with me on (http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/from-the-discomfort-zone-challenge-to-exit-mediocrity/99/#comments). What’s hindering us to confidently take on challenges is subservience to the “guru” in every field who always takes on a superior, higher order space. It’s unthinkable in our society to challenge the guru’s training.  Disciples have to respect and obey the ideas or orders of the guru who generally never likes to be challenged.

I remember our art college professors in Kolkata were extremely strict. Students had to learn painting or drawing technicalities exactly in the teacher’s artistic style. There were 2 kinds of professors, those who only taught, others who had created a big reputation in the art market. The latter became gurus whose hardcore disciples considered themselves a cut above us because their guru professor is a famous artist. From their paintings in later life, you can easily identify which guru professor such painters were disciples of. This guru-disciple trend was suffocating me. Hailing from an inferior refugee colony, I was a low profile student who didn’t have the swagger of my slick city-bred colleagues to become a guru professor’s disciple. More stifling and disheartening was seeing my senior colleagues take up clerical jobs, giving up hope of an artistic future. Suddenly after my 3rd year, I had to break this path. I eloped to France. I don’t know if I subconsciously challenged myself or took a risk.

After a tough entrance test, I enrolled in Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-arts in Paris, the prestigious 1648 art academy that trained painters like Degas, Delacroix, Monet, Renoir among others. From my livelihood savings I also studied graphic design in Academie Julian founded in 1868. Initially I felt extremely dispirited, no professor would come to my drawing board to take my pencil or brush to teach me. Was I again sans a guru?  Then I noticed that whoever wanted the professor’s help would either take the drawing to the professor or call the professor to see the work. That’s when I understood these professors were masters, not gurus. To coach students, they gave references of other painters, photographers, cinematographers, or controversial figures in domains outside art.  They never displayed their own artistic competence, nor obliged students to follow them.

My typography professor in Academie Julian was Paul Gabor of Hungarian origin. From him I learnt and have mastered the typography foundation of 4 schools, Gothic, Roman, Antique and Elzevir. He trained us with such passion that typography felt like an art form. Much later when I entered the branding profession, what I discovered about him took my breath away. My professor is the world-renowned creator of a different typography font named Gabor after him. Training from such masters made me shed my guru culture baggage. Masters don’t impose their personal style, instead listen to individualistic ideas of students, discuss different angles to help them develop. One of my Ecole des Beaux-arts professors often commented on my drawings saying there’s gesture in them, that I should never lose this gesture style in my art. Consciously or unconsciously, the way forward in my artistic domain was a challenging mindset. I’ve later created a movement called Gesturism art .

To illustrate the prescriptive process of the oral transfer of craftsmanship from a guru, let’s look at the traditional guru-shishya parampara in Indian music. There is an element of worship of the specific knowledge that a disciple gains from a learned guru who personally teaches Indian music. This worship often gets exemplified into unfettered guru devotion irrespective of other non-becoming characteristics the guru may have. Today, young people across the country mostly want to play the guitar, piano, drums or keyboard. Rarely do they express interest in the sitar, sarangi, tabla or shehnai unless parents or grandparents urge them. Urban areas have more stores that sell Western rather than Indian musical instruments. Perhaps that’s because you cannot excel in oral musical traditions without gurus and there are not enough interested disciples. After all such music was an elitist art form and gurus never always impart all their secrets. This prevents disciples to easily blossom into new gurus. So when most gurus pass on, so do their art and the techniques they excelled in.

On the other hand, Western musical system documents everything, allowing students to learn from bygone masters. It even encourages them to challenge masters to become better than masters in future. Take the works of 18th century Baroque composer George Frideric Handel. His 42 operas, 29 oratorios, 16 organ concerti and over 120 musical compositions are performed exactly the same way even today. Another prolific 18th century Classical era composer was Wolfgang Mozart in whose honour an annual music festival is held in his birthplace Salzburg, Austria. That he was a great master is evident as he inspired many composers to become masters too. The most famous among them are Ludwig van Beethovan, Fernando Sor, Mikhail Glinka, Frederic Chopin, Max Roger and Tchaikovsky who wrote memorable musical tributes to Mozart that are played and available to everyone today. There are many interpretations and reinterpretations of how people have played any master’s original compositions, but every later version is documented so nobodt becomes dependent on a guru.

I’m making this guru vs. master point to demonstrate the importance of a mindset of challenge when our country invites global capitalistic competitive manufacturers to come “Make in India.” The guru-shishya system may have success in certain domains, but it prevents you from becoming a challenger. Here you require the master to make the learner better than the master. In business, people with the guru mentality look up to their bosses, giving them guru status. This practically kills all initiative, making them mentally and physically dependent at work. Unless we break this guru kowtowing attitude, great ideas like “Make in India” will remain a dream waiting for the guru’s wand to materialize it.

Download a FREE PDF copy of the article.

Source : The Indian Express / The Financial Express

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Dec
14
Posted on 14-12-2014
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

Taking scientific, logical challenge with passion at the individual, collective and country levels makes a country innovative. Many Western business associates ask me whether “Make in India” is a marketing gimmick or a real drive from India’s Government. Their doubt seems to stem from past slogans like “Incredible India.” My response is always positive because in this column earlier, as well as in my books, I have advocated that India should have a strong, high skill driven manufacturing base, that our millions be trained to develop skills in different areas to both advance their livelihood and better our economy in the global field.

“Make in India” is the start of solving our country’s major problems. It will drastically shorten the poverty line, increase lower income people’s wages, equip them for better jobs through skill development, open entrepreneurial export opportunities making the country self-dependant and invite the world to make India their high value manufacturing hub. To overcome our biggest lacuna of not having the challenge-taking mindset, let’s look at those who have taken scientific, logical challenges.

Cisco CEO John Chambers started his address in Jacksonville, USA by inviting the thousand-strong crowd to challenge him. At this global digital technology conference I participated in, Chambers said he won’t be an isolated spectacle on stage. Unless challenged, he said, it would mean his subject or delivery was so banal it impacted nobody, and nobody would register his words. The audience felt really easy throwing bold questions at this multi-billion dollar Cisco founder who responded with scientific and logical aplomb, opening a healthy debate in the memorably vibrant session.

Challenge by inventors: People with self-initiative challenge the world in new dimensions. Did you know Thomas Edison with over 1000 patents is a school dropout? Just his voice recorder changed the world, subsequently creating a huge entertainment industry and several adaptable innovations.  Neither did “flying machine” inventors, Wilber and Orville Wright, who flew the first airplane, pass school. The American attitude of going to the garage with the mentality to invent is a total challenge to society. Although the US has large, sophisticated, scientific laboratory establishments, many important American inventions after 1880 came from the unconventional garage “self-laboratory.” The top 6 famous garage start-ups are Amazon.com by Jeff Bezos, Apple by college-dropout Steve Jobs, Disney by Walt and Roy Disney, Google by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Harley Davidson by William Harley and Arthur Davidson, HP by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. With scarce means, minimalistic way of living, little physical comfort, these garage inventors spectacularly challenged the world to exit mediocrity while inventing something out-of-the-box. Their individual power, motivation and passion were so strong that without taking any establishment support, their challenge resulted in greenfield inventions.

Challenge from devastated countries: I can never support Germany or Japan’s Axis military force of World War II, but hugely admire their challenge to rise above defeat. The Allied Army devastated Germany, of course to wipe out their devilish Nazi regime. Trounced Germany bounced back bravely to take on entrepreneurial challenges, and continues to be best in high quality precision manufacturing and innovation. Engineering workmanship accuracy and invincible quality of German SMEs have made the country robust enough to overcome global recessionary periods to become Europe’s most stable economy. Japan’s rebound from atomic bomb devastation was to challenge sophisticated Western developed countries by producing the world’s best quality in every domain. Upto 1970s, Japan suffered the poor quality reputation. Even I remember small, cute bad quality Japanese products in my childhood. We’d always heard that German pianos are the best due to superior acoustic engineering. Taking the piano platform as a global challenge, Japan is mesmerizing the world today by perfecting their skill-set for the delicate exactitude that piano-making requires.  You see more Yamaha pianos in classical music or rock concerts than any other country’s piano.  Destruction from war made them challenge their victimization to win in diverse industrial spheres.

Creative industry challenge: Conquering the Wild West is pride and nostalgia for all Americans. Macho actors like John Wayne, who shot into fame in John Ford’s 1939 directed “Stagecoach,” symbolized the American cowboy. Several gun-happy Westerns were made in the US which distinguished them as typically American cowboy films.

Italy, another War ravaged Axis power, had started Neo-Realism films to forget being devastated. When such films started declining in 1950s, Director Sergio Leone cheekily challenged big-time Hollywood studios. Just imagine, from traditional European culture, he dared to portray American cowboys in A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) that became global box office hits. These lower-budget films were shot in Italy and Spain, hence nicknamed Spaghetti Westerns. In this creative challenge, Spaghetti Westerns have overtaken American-made Westerns in popularity. Americans sitting in the US prefer imported Westerns, while globally, Sergio Leone, rather than John Ford, is recalled as the symbol of cowboy movies. Don’t forget, Sergio Leone’s challenge was so gigantic that even Bollywood’s highest grossing $50 million blockbuster Sholay was inspired to imitate his most famous Once upon a time in the West 1968 film.

Among many scientific, logical and creative challenges that changed mediocrity, can “Make in India” be one? The Government says many administrative areas will be facilitated, which must be happening. But how will Government help to raise people’s skill-set? Overall, several skill-set gaps need plugging in manufacturing, such as lack of hygienic and civic sense, lack of entrepreneurial challenge and innovative mindset, poor learning curve, non-conducive value of time, low capability. Only private industry, from MSMEs to middle and big enterprises and the self-employed can bring the change if they imbibe logical, scientific and passionate challenge to kill mediocrity in their work culture like Germany, Japan and now Korea have done. I can only refer you to the terrific words of American President John Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

Download a FREE PDF copy of the article.

Source : The Indian Express / The Financial Express

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Oct
12
Posted on 12-10-2014
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

Discomfort from Church domination led Italians to pursue an individualistic approach. Disrespecting religious taboos, they embraced art, science, literature and philosophy to begin the Renaissance period, injecting colour in every design element.

This infusion of colour is so deep rooted in every Italian psyche that when I egged on my dressed-David-statue look-alike Italian friend to enter our Painter CEO Club, he subconsciously painted Mediterranean blue of the sea, green of the hills, orange of the sky at sunset. Yes he’s a CEO in India. That’s why I invited him to display his artistic mindset through colours on a canvas, something that 59 CEOs, Managing Directors and Chairmen have already done. Take a look: http://www.painterceo.com/participants/2014/Giorgio-De-Roni.php

Or did my dressed-David paint his favorite Sardinia, his wife’s Mediterranean home? My experiential learning of Italian design techniques got heightened when his 84-year-old father-in-law, Mr. Meloni took us back from AD to BC. He trudged us up to a primeval granite shelter called Nuraghe Majori. Made of piled boulders without any joining material, its rooms, passages, steps to a turret were still decipherable. Sardinia’s hallmark is its unique Bronze Age Nuragica Civilization dating 1800-1100 BC. There once were 10,000 megalithic stone dolmens scattered across the island depicting creative, innovative use of materials and techniques of prehistoric architecture. Just imagine, this ancient foundation of Italian design is transcending to their day-to-day culture today.

Mr Meloni’s spirit of exposing the old was inexhaustible. On a sunny day we went to “Olivastro di Luras” possibly the world’s oldest olive tree of 11.20 meter girth, aged 3500+ years. Speckled light falling under the tree displayed its exquisite bio-design; it was like an expedition to discover living history. Mr Meloni explained differences in trees of thousands of years ago. India’s banyan has multiple roots emanating from branches that spread to become trees, whereas olive trees have just one trunk and root penetrating underground, its age recorded in the rings of its trunk. Perhaps there’s some relationship between Italian individualism and the olive tree’s single trunk, whereas the banyan seems to accommodate a few generations of an Indian joint family living together.

Hilarious was our trip to Mr Meloni’s farm. Driving his small, 4-wheel drive Fiat Panda car, he sped us down winding roads without a single pothole, traversing the beauty of virgin greenery. In 45 minutes we arrived at his undulating farmland where plenty of cows were grazing. A huge metal gate was locked. He gave the key to my dressed-David friend. It’s important to tell you that on our return, he got off the steering wheel to personally lock the gate to be 100% sure. With typical Italian-Mediterranean hand gesture and a wink, dressed-David indicated how his father-in-law had no confidence on anybody when it came to his cows.

We entered the farm, my wife and Italian friendrushed to greet the cows. Watching from my camera lens, I saw the cows were going away. Well, my wife’s a brown foreigner, but how could they refuse to reciprocate an Italian Psychology Doctorate from Cambridge? Mr Meloni behind me was chuckling childishly. When he appeared in my camera, in a beautiful voice he called, “Bey! Bey!” Believe me, all the cows immediately turned to surround him, as though they were conversing, nudging to get closer to him. My wife laughed, but David-look-alike was totally disappointed. He dramatically bemoaned in heavy Italian accent and perfect English that even being a loving son-in-law, the cows didn’t care. I really enjoyed capturing this mutually loving attitude of the animals and Mr Meloni on video.

Unlike French society, I find that Italy’s incredible theatre reputation goes beyond the stage into real life. Their day-to-day practical living is extremely dramatic, from body gesture to spoken language to dressing style, transcending to their toilet, kitchen, bedroom, living room. You can understand grand Italian culture from famous cine directors Fellini or Ettore Scola, actors Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio Gassman. Of course let’s not forget their political drama, from former President Berlusconi’s bunga-bunga nude underwater parties with nubile girls, to Cicciolina, the prostitute who became Italian Minister of Parliament in 1987. When Cicciolina went on official visits to different countries, she’d dramatically bare her breasts at the airport. She openly offered to have sex with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden in return for world peace. In every aspect of Italian life there’s drama that’s not artificial, but real social life. It’s really spectacular.

Easter Sunday lunch was an incredible 4-hours of true Sardinian-North Italian atmosphere surrounded by dressed-David’s extended family and some friends. When I accompanied my friend to bring the food, I figured we were going to a caterer. But, no. His wife had ordered special food from different friends’ homes. They cooked for us, each dish had unique character. Fraternity like this is a symbol of Italian Mediterranean breeze. I’ve never seen it in France. I’m not sure this can happen in mainland Italy either.

What touched me while returning home was dressed-David’s affectionate conjugal gesture. He suddenly stopped the car at a slope, climbed the mountain’s edge, cut some wild lavender flowers with a knife from his pocket. That he’d planned to embellish his wife’s Easter lunch table with Sardinia’s fragrance is another example of Italian elegance. Such cultural aesthetics is embedded in Italian living style. We dined in full view of the valley, mountains with plenty of “cidre de Liban” and cork trees so bountiful in Sardinia. Then in village Luras we visited his sister-in-law’s ancestral home. Entering a centuries-old house and feeling family continuity in every corner was more hallucinating than visiting Versailles Palace.

My Italian experience can fill a book, but let me conclude my learning of design from 5 countries:  France on making every selling proposition aspirational and disruptive, Germany on precision and process, Americans taught me industrial scale, Japan about miniaturization and embellishment and Italians, elegance and artistic sense. Such learning is relevant to our country’s new mantra of developing our peoples’ skills and capability so the world can come to “Make in India.”

To Download a FREE PDF copy Click here My Sardinian sojourn

Source : The Indian Express

 

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Sep
28
Posted on 28-09-2014
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

Italian art fascinated me when I first discovered it in my Kolkata art college. Coming as I did from my mud-house refugee colony then, I’d considered the solid structured British architecture college building itself to be a place of pilgrimage. Today I can see how it was art alone that saved me from extreme poverty where an important breadwinner in our joint family, my school teacher mother, was quite vulnerable, regularly bleeding from her nose and mouth from malnourishment and overwork.

Somehow I was terrified by school exams; that’s probably why I still have no degree beyond matriculation. But the art college entrance exam was most exciting. We had to draw a human figure in front of the professor, an exercise that our refugee colony neighbour, Subhinoy Uncle, had made me practice since childhood.  Subhinoy Uncle with his outstanding artistic talent was my role model. He couldn’t exploit art for livelihood generation so did some basic level work in electric supply. The incomparable learning I got from him was so vital that it’s like the blood of my art. It allowed me my first leapfrog into Kolkata Government College of Art and Craft.

Our college library exposed to me the high skill of Italian artists. Leonardo da Vinci’s quality of observation captured through sepia Conté drawing of drapery, the natural folds of fabric coming alive with just pencil sketching, made my mind turn upside down. He started my passionate love affair with incredible Mediterranean art and culture of the last 2000 years. Italy taught me artistic sense and elegance in art and industrial design.

Vincent van Gogh’s artistic palette changing from dark Dutch Potato Eaters to bright Sunflowers on arrival in France was my inspirational pull to go to Paris in 1973. So in art, Italy is my mind, France is my heart and Subhinoy Uncle is my blood.

Departing on Air India for Paris, something incredible happened. The air hostess announced a transit in Rome, and do you know what mesmerized me more? The airport’s name was Leonardo da Vinci! I didn’t know that. Actually I didn’t even know the meaning of transit. She said we could stay in the aircraft or disembark. I was enthralled but hesitant; what if plane flies away without me? Then I took the bold step of touching the airport floor. This immediately took me to another planet mentally, my first step on Mediterranean Europe, the country of Raphael, da Vinci, Michael Angelo that I had studied with my pencils in Kolkata Art College. Now here I was at their place, this unforgettable step on Rome airport with its elegant Italian marble flooring. All the money I had with me was $8; but I could not resist buying and posting a postcard to my mother about experiencing Europe. Italy continues to drive me to imbibe artistry and elegance in design.

In 1986 a famous Italian company hired my company to work for their pasta brand. Their Marketing wing was briefing me about how different all pastas are. We visited the factory to see how different shaped pasta come out from the machine. Lunch was organized with the company’s owner who spoke very good French. After lunch he took me back to the factory to show the pasta dough. He trained me on how from the same pasta dough, using the art of design through dissimilar moulds they change the shape and perception. This invites consumers to prepare diverse types of recipes with differently shaped pasta. I found his pasta explanation ingenious; I understood that Italian art and culture starts right from the food they eat. The art of the designs of penne, tripolini, fettuccine, rottini, farfelle, lasagne, tortellili, gnocchi, spaghetti and more were explained for 2 hours by this gentleman. He very often held a single pasta with 2 fingers and showed off its beauty in front of a table lamp. His elaboration on the culture of pasta was to help me express it in the branding. I met with him 6 more times to learn of the aesthetics to the eating enjoyment of pasta.

Having worked for many years with many Italian companies ranging from automobiles to food, FMCG to fashion, I’ve learned that Italian designers of different disciplines always look at any product’s aesthetics from its specific aesthetics angle. Actually I was surprised why such a great design society would call a French company like mine. In response they said the key attraction was the effective way we translated customer centricity into European and global strategy and design. When we worked to make Carapelli Italian olive oil into a global brand, the company allowed us total artistic license.  We translated the olive oil’s origin in Tuscany with very sophisticated imagery and disruptively broke tradition by putting the product in a thin whisky bottle type design so it didn’t look like oil. Only this brave, risk-taking Italian management could accept our new branding and structural packaging which subsequently made olive oil branding history and brought positive returns to the company.

If you walk down an Italian street you’ll rarely find anyone badly dressed. Irrespective of income, Italians seem to psychologically carry an elegance that I’ve not seen in many countries. In the past 18 months I’ve been associated with a terrific Italian whose body structure gives the living idea of Michael Angelo’s David sculpture. With my close affinity to Italian culture, we hit it off instantly; our relationship has transcended to philosophical areas. He invited my wife and me to spend Easter with his in-laws in the beautiful island of Sardinia.  At midnight mass in their parish church, the small village population, from children to geriatrics, was all there. The contrast of this old-style village church with stained-glass holy pictures and modern-dressed locals religiously singing classical hymns was amazing. On my left my wife, on my right my Italian David-featured friend is a pictorial canvas I will never forget. Let me continue to express my learning of Italian aesthetics through the window of this family next week.

To download above article in PDF : Psychologically aesthetic Italians

Source : The Indian Express

 

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Aug
24
Posted on 24-08-2014
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

Being customer friendly is what Leonardo da Vinci taught marketers through all his engineering designs. His Mona Lisa, the painting he did in the 16th century has been so enigmatic that almost 10 million people from across the globe still visit Louvre Museum in Paris every year to see it. No other work to date has achieved this kind of success. This can be considered as art marketing the Louvre.

Mona Lisa, La Joconde in French, is the world’s best known, most visited, written and sung about, and most parodied work of art. It was a hugely controversial painting because it was perverse and ahead of its time. Paintings done then were large depictions of social and religious scenes in public buildings like churches or in palaces. But Leonardo’s painting had a central figure portrait with aerial perspective, and that too of an unknown woman, not royalty.

A painting or a sculpture that’s hung or erected in a museum is inspirational. But design that is applied through functional improvement for bettering the human quality of life represents an artist’s strong discipline. Leonardo is reputed to be the most diversely talented genius ever to have lived. His micro detailed designs went beyond his sensorial painting canvas to upgrade human life. He conceptualized flying machines, armoured vehicles, concentrated solar power, and made important discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics. His designs were 600 years ahead of his time. By providing people the benefit of science in everyday life, he became the future builder of the world.

With Leonardo as the reference, I find that European design, which has the order of discipline, creativity and process, is the authentic source of the world’s best knowledge and knowhow of product design as we practice it nowadays. Last week I wrote about how German machinery is best but irrelevant to a section of the Indian market; Indian machines are compromised due to being in the demand led market where quality is not addressed. So in diametrically different angles, both fail to deliver customer benefit. The Germans need to have the willingness to change to become relevant to heterogeneous India, while Indian companies have to improve in capability to deliver excellence in products.

Let me today address my fellow industrial product designers in India. I can only tell you that if you have the good fortune of learning design principles from the work of designers or design schools in the five countries that I got exposed to, just grab that opportunity without asking any question. Let me describe my learning experience.

France taught me how to make any selling proposition very aspirational and very disruptive. The Germans hammered home the point to me about high precision, never deviate from the process. Americans see everything big, from them I learnt about how important it is to design industrial products for mass scale manufacture. The Japanese exposed me to how miniature designing is done. It’s not just flat reduction, aesthetics and neatness have to be perfect, while functionality can never be compromised; in fact it’s heightened. The Italians taught me elegance and artistic sense at every stage and in the finished product.

Nowadays experiencing product design from all these countries is not so difficult in India as products from these five cultures are all here. So if you have the patience and passion for reverse engineering, that is reproducing another manufacturer’s product just by following detailed examination of its construction or composition, you can easily learn. You will discover how these five countries approach industrial product design, and certainly improve your capability to become globally competitive. In today’s context, don’t forget to learn from the Koreans too.

A designer’s heady combination of scientific and sensorial substance in product design is what will surprise the customer. It is the customer’s first approach towards a product that should cue its usage excellence and feeling. That determines its success, not its engineering inventiveness alone.

Approach: Without any assistance, the customer should get magnetized towards easily approaching the product, especially a new product she is unfamiliar with. If she needs an elaborate user manual to make the product work, you’ve lost half her interest. The product’s immediate appearance must be easy, inviting, glamorous, and psychologically in sync with the customer’s requirement purpose. She should experience these four parameters after buying the product. She will then start talking about the brand to influence others to buy it.

Usage: The initial involvement of product usage functionality should be magnetic, provide independence, be devoid of intimidation and easy to use. It should be ergonomically in sync with the customer’s usage habit. This is valid for after purchase too.

Feeling: The customer’s feeling is hidden and intangible but that’s what impacts her acceptance of the product. As a designer, if you can gauge her feeling after she has approached and used the product, you can mastermind a strong concept for the design. If the customer’s feeling is not distinctive, you can be sure there would be no word-of-mouth or excessive commercial success. You can assess this at the time of designing the product only when you can make her articulate her unstated feelings and carefully watch her eye expression, facial expression and body language while she is doing so. Not knowing the customer’s feeling will make your product merely the material you’ve used.

“Pop art is for everyone,” declared American painter Andy Warhol. He also said that when he makes any mistake in his paintings, people like it even more. In general, society always questions design that has some difference. That difference is being creative ahead of time. Most of the world’s celebrated art and design have always been prematurely ahead so people have found perversion in them. At every design point, beginning from ideation, concept, design, prototype, tooling and the final product, the customer’s ergonomic behavior is the central theme. You can only enrobe it in the design. You then have a design that has appeal and sells.

To download above article in PDF Perversity sells design

Financial Express link:http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/perversity-sells-design/99/

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Aug
17
Posted on 17-08-2014
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

I’m making a provocative comparison between Indian and German engineering, how they are diametrically different, yet how both fail to deliver consumer benefit in diametrically different angles.

Germany, the World War II culprits, was thoroughly bombed by Allied forces. Yet the devastated nation regained its high quality engineering excellence to be recognized as the world’s best. Take a look at any German car. Behind the infotainment screen is extremely sophisticated technology. Auto air conditioning incredibly retains the set temperature in sunlight and in shade. Consumer demand in developed countries is so high on quality that engineered products become extremely innovative and complex in that highly competitive market. This invariably increases cost, but people living in the Euro money platform can afford expensive products.

In developing countries, German engineering is facing enormous problems. They fail to adjust German engineering excellence to be relevant to developing countries that require mass category and not premium or luxury products. An Indian customer of a German washing machine said it took two months for a technician to come for service after sales. The German company was not neglecting the customer, but in over-confidence believed their perfect machine cannot have a problem. The customer was suspected of not knowing how to use the machine. Nor could the German company anticipate voltage fluctuation that paralyzed the machine, so claimed responsibility is not theirs. It can be argued that if you are doing business in India, the first relevant factor to know is power not being of homogenous standard. So shouldn’t ingenious German technology be used to resolve the issue so the machine automatically adjusts to irregular power supply?

At the mass level, India requires auto vehicles to be high in quality, low in servicing need. Germans have an edge in manufacturing automobile parts and features, but I’m not sure how much attention they pay to support such requirements by reducing overdesign to fit Indian market conditions. Eg. A famous mass German car in India has 33 chips. Imagine the plight of the service garage! By trimming overdesign yet retaining German value, their cost can become relevant to developing countries.

German machinery for manufacturing different consumer products needs very high standard, homogeneous raw materials. It has happened that many Indian manufacturers who bought German machines as they’re the world’s best, have faced the dilemma of not being able to commission the machinery because the raw materials were not upto the machine’s required standard. So they ended up tinkering with the sophisticated machinery to accept the raw ingredients available here. Engineers in India have not only adjusted the original German equipment, they become adept at redesigning them to make duplicate machinery for additional production. So instead of buying another high cost German machine, they end up installing 3 to 4 redesigned Indian machines at the same cost.

Actually, it’s quite normal that stringent industrial design discipline makes German machines so precise that the machine does not accept raw material of unequal quality. This ensures consumers get extra benefit. Raw material is unequal even in the West. Eg. wheat flour will be different when it’s fresh off the field, when in storage for a year, or procured from different countries. As the manufacturing sector is highly sophisticated there, intermediaries like super agents blend the unequal raw material to bring it to a high class blend to align to the machine’s acceptance level. This kind of segregation is not done in most developing countries, so the machines instead get adjusted according to the unevenness of the raw material.

Finally who is the loser? Quality understanding of developed country consumers has been finely honed from competitive market offerings so they do not accept anything inferior. In demand led markets like India where delivering the product is more important than to meet global standard quality, manufacturers compromise, and consumers have little choice. Indian consumers are losing by not getting best global standard products.

The German machinery company is the loser too. Not only does it not sell more machines, its engineering is being copied. Germans are obviously suffering from blinkered overdesign, are not in tune with their customers’ market situations. Don’t they need to tailormake to fit Indian needs without deviating from their high engineering precision grid where cost and feasibility will have relevance?

Indian companies may temporarily be the winners, but for how long? With proliferation of foreign goods here, consumers are tasting quality products and switching to them. Indian brands will not become global by supplying mediocre products on demand without raising the quality bar. Indian companies adapting German machinery to make low quality design machines will obviously get huge cost advantage but taking shortcuts with hit-and-miss engineering is very mediocre and not constructive. Indian engineers are not learning best practices; they cannot become global. After the War, Japan and Korea also had low engineering quality; they too copied German engineering but they made better adaptation for mass scale delivery.

Cost matters for mass consuming products in every country. Raising a brand’s quality standard, whether in food, personal care, automobile, consumer electronics or mobile phone and charging accordingly is in the manufacturer’s hand. How long can Indian manufacturers compromise on quality to drive the demand led market and bring cost down? The foreign brand will always have an edge unless of course it cheats in India. Indian consumers are not blind. I’ve often heard them say the same brand they buy in India has superior quality in developed countries.

German machinery is the best but irrelevant to a section of the market. Indian machines are compromised due to being in the demand led market where quality is not addressed. Both have concerns. The advantage the best has, like German machinery, is to become relevant, that’s easy and just a matter of their willingness. The disadvantage the compromised Indian company has is the challenge of total behavior change to provide customer benefit by increasing employee capability. So what’s diametrically different is willingness vs. capability.

To download above article in PDF Diametrically different

Financial Express link:http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/from-the-discomfort-zone-diametrically-different/99/

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Aug
10
Posted on 10-08-2014
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

“Your article last week on Customer Value touched the core of my heart as I am constantly fighting for this cause,” wrote my valued reader Commodore G S Kanwal, retired from the Indian Navy, “but we are more or less in a Catch 22 situation.”

Small businesses, like the 44-bedded hotel service that Commodore Kanwal runs and is fighting various social and career factors to retain trained staff in, are the real backbone of our country. I’ve promoted the cause of MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) in this column as well as detailed how to encourage their activities in my books “Jalebi Management” and its sequel “Strategic Pokes.” We should always remember that all big companies began as MSMEs. Courier service UPS with over $55 billion revenue started with just 4 bicycles in 1907 to be among the world’s best companies. Another MSME blooming example is the $473 billion Walmart retail company that started as Walton’s 5&10 in 1950, a dime store in a small US town called Bentonville in Arkansas.

Among developed countries, the outstanding performance and internationalization of Germany’s MSME sector is worth emulating. According to Sequa gGmbH, a development organization where Germany’s top four business membership organizations DIHK, ZDH, BDI and BDA are shareholders, Germany’s economic structure is determined by MSMEs that account for almost 99% of all businesses, and employ about 80% of regular workers. The government has several support programs and measures to promote MSMEs. Contributing significantly to GDP, they’ve made the German economy the strongest in Europe today.

Unlike in Germany, about three-fourths of India’s MSMEs cannot access banks or institutional financing as per a study by industry body Assocham and finance advisory Resurgent India. Without adequate credit, most MSMEs actually borrow from their family and friends, which naturally impacts their business planning in terms of time and ability to raise the required amount. A new kind of short-span, flirting with money entity has mushroomed in our modern reformed economy, the start-ups funded by angel investors. Start-ups remind me of the attitude some bachelors have on how to handle their girlfriends. By hook or crook these start-ups have to prove their model is working. They try to hike valuation to sell out and encash big money within a short span of time. In relationship analogy, it’s like working hard and making a name to grab the plum dowry that’s waiting when he opts for an arranged marriage ditching his girlfriend. Most angel investors look for short term investment and quick earnings. This influence of working to finally sell out is not setting a good example to the new generation. To become a solid entrepreneur, you have to drive your business, single-focused, for the long term.

Let me note some hard truths that MSMEs face in India’s modern economy:

1. MSMEs often run like a family business where there’s no question of hiring hardcore professionals.

2. The younger generation does not want to carry forward the business the father set up. Having witnessed the fair amount of struggle required to run the show, these youngsters prefer to become an employee with less responsibility and the assured monthly pay slip.

3. Entrepreneur fathers consider only their generation can do business. Having sent their children to the kind of schools they themselves have not gone to, the children develop an outlook that’s rather dissimilar from their parents. Thereafter the father develops low confidence in his child’s capability; and neither does the son want his father as his boss at work. Subsequently there is no continuity.

4. For arranged marriages and social recognition, the value of young people working in big corporate houses and being the manager of a large number of people is higher than if they were working in their father’s business.

5. To be an entrepreneur, you need to have 3 skillsets (a) Knowing your product in depth so you know its selling point. (b) People management skill to keep employees motivated and reduce attrition. (c) Be an outstanding salesperson to play in a competitive marketplace. It’s not always the case that one person will have all 3 competencies. As an entrepreneur you may have one or two of these skillsets, so it’s extremely important that you find an appropriate partner to compensate the other skills.

6. An entrepreneur who does not have the right capability for the segment of business being pursued tends to spread out into diverse business areas. But without single focus, long term steady business can never be built up.

7. Such diversification leads to most funding institutes not trusting the competency, sustaining strategy and capacity of MSMEs. To safeguard their loans, banks ask for detailed documentation and securities which leave MSMEs flummoxed. Even short term working capital on credit is not easy for them to get. Actually banks have evidence too of suffering non-performing assets on having loaned to small businesses. So for MSMEs, cash flow is a constant problem to run day-to-day operations and fuel their future growth.

In these 7 points I’ve listed, there is a big role the Government can play. Several industry and Government bodies already exist to facilitate MSMEs, but how concretely is help provided? It’s essential to create “World class MSME India" as a driving force where the two basic requirements for MSME business growth would be customer centricity and retaining a defined global quality standard in MSME offerings.

My earnest request to our new Government is to take non-bureaucratic action in this area. Among such action could be the professional handling of MSMEs to represent their interests in capability building and getting loans, having our embassies overseas promote business with MSMEs, encouraging them through consultancy to develop their innovative power, and having a very dynamic TV channel by Doordarshan exclusively dedicated to MSMEs with inspiring stories, winning examples and professional help and advice to get ahead. When MSMEs flourish, employees will not leave their jobs so easily, and the country’s GDP can experience galloping growth.

To download above article in PDF World class MSME India

Financial Express link:http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/world-class-msme-india/99/

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Aug
03
Posted on 03-08-2014
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

In the 30 years I’ve been an entrepreneur consultant I’ve had the opportunity of sitting with senior management teams from enterprises in diverse industries to infuse customer centricity into their products and services. This has been both a pleasurable experience and the toughest job in my business life.

I’ve always faced two types of clients; those interested in achieving customer centricity, and the large section that’s quite indifferent. The interested ones put tremendous effort to understand how core the customer is. They drive hard to inject this core inside their organization, facing the difficult job of changing employee behaviour. The second type of clients enters the comfort zone of ad hoc adaptability. They deliver what’s feasible as per their backend capability and act as though customers will accept it. This is the trouble-free route of changing the bottle, not the wine; and hoping against hoping that customers will not notice.

Without end-customers, where is business? Enterprises agree to this, but miss out on driving it seriously as business truth. It makes me very uncomfortable when management level people barely put in effort to understand the end-customer’s subconscious mind where buying motivation resides. I cannot fathom why trying to own the end-customer’s mindshare is not the first priority of every enterprise. After all if an enterprise can find out what to do to change the end-customer’s behaviour towards favouring its product or service, that enterprise can smile all the way to the bank.

I believe in nonstop enterprise learning using customers as teachers and insight dispensers for business improvement. The ability to absorb human culture and behavior, anticipate economic and political phenomena in advance, co-opt technology advancement and dig deep into the social and psychological aspects are all necessary at this level to know how to respond to the market. However, industrial heaviness sometimes becomes so overpowering that managers get waylaid from the track of discovering and satisfying end-customer need or desire. In India in particular, it’s a huge dilemma.

Because managers do not always live in the end-customer’s domain, it becomes difficult to make them understand micro layers of end-customer centricity. I very often become stubborn in defending the value that end-customers should legitimately be receiving. It’s become my passion and obsession to add end-customer benefit in any enterprise I work for. To tell you the truth, I’m addicted to observing human behavior. Wherever I am, with the family, in the sports ground, entertainment or working environment, seminars, condolence visits, while travelling, watching television, Internet surfing, visiting painting museums, or receiving response from my readers, my eye turns to watch behavioural traits and reactions. The rapport between people of any age and economic stratum, their relationship with some product or service, are indeed very telling.

No matter where and in which country I am, I don’t hesitate to ask if something raises my curiosity.  ‘Why’ something I never ask as the person gets intimidated; it’s the ‘how’ I enquire about, and learn about the purpose. Learning can never be achieved when you are in the challenger mode. Rather I try to make learning conducive for both of us, me the learner and the end-customer as teacher. These ingredients have helped me understand end-customers in every industry wherever I have entered because no industry can run without an end-customer. Challenging a learning seed is totally destructive; as is the preconceived notion, which intellectuals and professionals are said to be guilty of. Preconception actually kills unearthing the new.

Corporate transformation is mere jargon: It’s true that behavioural change cannot be an easy job in a company aligned to market dynamics. You can transform a material in a machine to make products; iron ore can become steel. But human beings cannot be transformed like that. Actually changing employee behavior can be a nightmare in our country’s multi-behavioural heterogeneity, because people work and interpret the same subject very differently inside an enterprise. When they go into social and family life, it’s diametrically different. That’s why a huge drive from management is required to thoroughly educate employees on the purpose and objective of internal behavioural change according to changing end-customer trends. The company has to patiently work to make employees understand the benefits of end-customer centricity. Not only will the enterprise get better returns, but employee skills will improve, careers will get furthered, which in turn will impact the enterprise. It’s a very painstaking task. Unfortunately, most enterprises would rather spend money buying hallucinating capital assets than training human capital.

Indian enterprises are largely growing in a demand-led market. Just to illustrate, look at the contract. Organized retails in Western countries have captured more than 50% market share in every FMCG category. They sell high quality private label products at 30% lower price than national brands. So most manufacturing company brands are in a tight situation. Indian manufacturers are likely to face this condition too when this market matures. But managers today mistakenly believe that once they’ve performed in their key result areas, they’ve achieved the business strategically. In reality they have merely supplied to existing demand. They have not worked to sustain their business, make it long-term sticky nor worked to deliver differently to get end-customer mindshare for repeat purchase consistently today and tomorrow.

Need to deal with new market realities: Having brought end-customer centricity into several Indian enterpises in 15 years, I’ve seen growth happen when end-customer centricity is tightened, and slacken when corporates get diverted to make easy money trading in diverse categories. When they lose sharp competency focus and capability, they become like conglomerates selling products in different categories wherever there is demand. With complacency and routine comfort, they bring products from China or cut price to make volume. They’ve still not taken seriously the global predator-competitors ready to kill to grab market opportunity.

To capture local and global markets with sustainability, enterprises need to cultivate the passion for end-customer centric drive and change employee behaviour to align with that. The best way to do so is to grab the changing behavior of end-customers.

To download above article in PDF Defending end-customer value

Financial Express link: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/from-the-discomfort-zone-for-customer-value/99/

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Jul
27
Posted on 27-07-2014
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

Behaviour change comes in two ways: at the basic level, enterprises follow the same route avoiding product obsolescence, and, as I wrote last week, the unique way of making incredible difference, as Gillette, Sony Walkman and Apple among others did. However, prominent indicators that change behaviour are culture, food and ergonomics.

Culture: Nowhere is culture changing behavior more visible than in China. When Deng Xiaoping led the country after Mao Zedong, he introduced reforms from 1978 with his slogan of “To get rich is glorious.” This inspired private enterprises to grow. His de-collectivized communes, shifting to the household responsibility system making millions of peasants return to family farming. Village and town industries responded to the market. Shenzhen, a little village near Hongkong became an SEZ in 1979; today it’s the world’s largest manufacturing hub.

Opening up to international trade made Western influences enter politics, culture, the economy, challenging official values and moving beyond urban to rural areas. Dramatic culture change included family woes like broken homes. As incomes grew so did adultery. Divorce rose from 341,000 in 1980 to 2.2 million in 2013. Suspicious wives are resorting to private detectives who use secretive measures like attaching GPS trackers to their suspects’ cars or monitoring their calls. Such spying services are illegal but continue as privately collected evidence has been permitted in civil law suits. So, traditional Chinese culture is undergoing changes akin to capitalistic societies.

Cultural attributes that change behavior are basic functioning of day to day family life, health, education, economic conditions, lifestyle and livelihood generation. Religion is not part of it unless the society is monatomic with one religion driving the socio-eco-political spectrum. Culture started before religion or civilization where people discovered how to make fire, find food for survival or draw cave pictures.

It’s evident that materialism brings behavioural change. Take material comforts our Godmen enjoy like air conditioned rooms and cars, first or business class air travel instead of meditation under the trees. Their disciples may have thrust these comforts upon them, but it’s obvious these disciples have managed to change the habits of Godmen. In the West economic capitalism has changed deep-rooted religious practice with modern life when people say, “I’m Catholic but not practicing.”

What’s radically changed India’s working culture is the global IT servicing industry that reigns in about $80 billion every year. Young boys and girls work together in call centres. At age 18 in their first job after school these youngsters can earn upto Rs 18,000 per month, whereas if their father was a simple worker he’d be earning that amount perhaps after 25 years. So father-child cultural behaviour cannot be the same. News stories abound about condoms clogging call centre drains and employees being counseled because their speech has become American English, odd working hours make them miss all family functions and social contact outside office. Even the behaviour of pre-industrialed Americans was not altered so diametrically when they entered the post industrial era.

Food: Food is the behaviour changer for immigrant children who pick up the new country’s eating routine, although their parents may take time to change. But when food is designed with strong universal appeal, it can change behaviour. The world’s mass level people can never accept French style rare mincemeat beefsteak, but a well-done beef patty covered with salad, cheese and sauce within a bun becomes the familiar, favoured McDonald’s. Change beef to chicken, it even works with heterogeneous Indians with heterogeneous food habits. The Chinese devour burgers too, abandoning their centuries-old noodles habit.

Successful packaged food companies have remarkably turned people from handmade to readymade food. Without laborious work you just microwave an enjoyable dinner of varied dishes. Europe’s recent trend is frozen bakery and dessert, unheard of 20 years earlier as freshness found in specialized shops or home baking was always valued. Today companies have converted consumers to buy frozen mousse from supermarkets. When heated this soft product tastes incredibly good, so there’s no more hesitation to consume premade pastries.

Ergonomics: Physical instruments that humans touch for playing, working or entertaining can disruptively change behaviour. Just imagine, before Thomas Edison there was no repeated listening to music, sound or voice. The gramophone entirely modified our approach to entertainment. After Graham Bell’s telephone invention our primary communication style changed from using the pigeon, horse rider, or cycling postman as messengers. People held two instruments with both hands to talk and listen; then landline phones became one instrument; now the mobile phone is a single device you keep in your pocket. This behaviour changing evolution spans the mechanical, electric, electronic to the digi-tech age.

Children’s physical attachment to Barbie, Lego or Mechano sets has shifted to digitally driven games. If as a product designer you don’t follow children’s changing behaviour with games or the education system, you won’t be designing any saleable instrument for work, play or entertainment tomorrow. I’ve seen my 9-year-old granddaughter Sreeya who lives in London return from school at 4pm, then rush to the computer at a pre-fixed time to work online on mathematics with her classmates for the next day’s test. Their regular practice is to connect to the Internet for doing school homework together. Just imagine how digi-tech is changing children’s behavior, Sreeya often takes up a challenge against any child who’s online anywhere in the world. Even at office, digi-tech is infusing every domain with radical transformation, from HR recruitment to production to supply chain. Instead of spending time and money traveling, you conduct a multiple countries meeting through tele-presence.

The way we worked 10 years ago is not the same now, but our attitude in certain areas will never change. Fashion is cyclic, something new comes, vanishes, returns and we knowingly ride that cycle happily. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, politician or philosopher, try enlisting culture, food and our ergonomic relationship with devices, the agents that change human behavior, to really become iconic, capture mindshare and sell your product or ideology across the world.

To download above article in PDF Three fundamentals that change behavior

Financial Express link:http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/three-fundamentals-that-change-behaviour/99/

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Jul
20
Posted on 20-07-2014
Filed Under (BUSINESS) by Shombit

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

Changing the behavior of a product’s end-user does not happen by chance. Only an enterprise with special motivation can make it happen, as I wrote last week. Behavioral change is extremely physical. There’s got to be some bodily object that interacts with people for behavior to change, no intangible theory can do this job at the mass level.

Shaving behaviour: The straight razor where the blade folds into its handle, what roadside barber shops still use, was invented in 1680s. In 1901, Gillette’s initiated the double-edged safety razor with replaceable blades. To modernize men’s shaving habit, Gillette invented the single side razor. Introducing the “razor and blades business model” or inexpensive razor with disposable blades, Gillette grew its business tremendously. The beauty here is the high-tech blade; it’s expensive but gives a large number of shaves, the razor picks it up from its packaging socket, men don’t touch it. It’s so efficacious, simple and safe that women are attracted to use it.

So year after year with single focus Gillette follows every generation, social trend, state-of-the-art engineering with precision manufacturing to innovate and revolutionize the way the world shaves. The Fusion ProGlide with FlexBall Technology they’ve just announced has a maneuverable handle that moves, adjusts, pivots across a man’s facial contours to allow capturing every facial hair. This is a grand example of Gillette’s drive for world leadership by constantly changing men’s practical behaviour.

Walkman, the incredible behavior changer: History shows that Philips, the fundamental inventor of many products, could barely get registered in people’s minds as a behaviour changing agent, whereas newcomer Sony, not a fundamental inventor, successfully did so with the Walkman in 1979. The behavioral change Walkman established was phenomenal; people moved around with little earphones, hands-free, enjoying music with a personal device. Being able to transform habits often comes from single focused, creative entrepreneurial challenge. Sony masterminded entertainment devices with the Walkman, but it diversified, then ran into losses. The big behavioural change Sony Walkman introduced has shifted to Apple. Sony lost focus on entertainment devices for the digi-tech generation when it de-rooted its creative ingenuity into too many directions.

Smart phone: Changing people’s habit and behavior through the smart mobile phone, Apple dynamized the finger touch. Monopolistic Microsoft missed the boat with people shifting from laptop to mobile phone. Till a few years ago I was comfortable with my Blackberry, the typewriter replica. The day my IT engineer changed my dumb phone to a smart phone, I was lost as in an Indian crossroads junction where you don’t know where to go. But just a few days usage changed my habit. I could never imagine I’d write articles and books on the touch screen. Just look at how these industries have not only innovated but contaminated people to change their product usage behaviour.

Fast food: “Eat slowly” is our social nicety when hosting a meal for invited guests. Yet along with 118 countries worldwide, India has abandoned specific, food-related cultural nuances to embrace typical American fast food like McDonald’s. Europeans hated this “time is money” fast food concept, resisting its entry, but when at midnight you don’t find any restaurant open in rural Europe, a McDonald’s welcomes you. In fact McDonald’s has democratized society globally. A low economic strata family now dares to eat at the extremely expensive Champs Elysees high street of Paris because affordable McDonald’s is there. Also tourists amidst alien ways and food habits make a beeline for the predictably familiar McDonald’s.

In places famous for gastronomy like France and Italy, McDonald’s tweaks its menu and décor to attract localites. In Milan’s 14th century Piazza del Duomo with Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the world’s oldest and beautiful shopping mall, there’s luxury brand Prada on the left, Louis Vuitton on the right, Cartier, Gucci, Ferragamo all within eyeview jostling for prominence. I was amused to see the bright yellow M twinkling at the edge, saying “I’m lovin’ it” and attracting heavy traffic in total defiance of the dissonance traditionalists feel. The only food connecting poor, rich, old and young across heterogeneous India is the jalebi, which is why my book is called Jalebi Management to represent everyone. India’s traditional food habit is different every 500 km, but McDonald’s with the same veg and non-veg menu is mesmerizing all age groups across south, east, north and west. This is the USD28 billion McDonald’s incredible spirit of changing the eating behaviour of Indians.

Never so easy: Behaviour change through product usage is not always easy. Take the e-cigarette that’s trying so hard to shift smokers. The response is minimal as e-cigarettes merely give flavoured vapour that simulates tobacco smoking. Actually the main question is, do cigarette companies really want their business model to change? Is the e-cigarette an eye-wash to fool the public and regulators that people’s health is not being damaged? As the e-cig is not addictive it doesn’t work towards behavioural change. So will smokers and cigarette companies forget about changing behavior and continue to injure health?

Enterprises need a different mindset to change the end user’s behavior: It’s the ingenuity of the enterprise that drives new behaviour creation. Before the digital age crept up on us, human behaviour took time to change. Digi-tech now helps speed up innovation for industrial production to satisfy human needs. Corporate ideation for changing and sustaining the customer’s behavior tomorrow will be very different and challenging because of fast changing digi-trends. An innovative but traditional mindset company can make profitable growth, but when it can command the mechanism of changing behavior, it enters another league and metaphor.

The substance of changing customer behavior always requires a distinct spark. The product or service has to be extremely humane and uplift routine to ideal habit. Society’s drivers may start the change in a small way, but if it’s really scientific it quickly shapes up to addict the masses who are the followers in society.

To download above article in PDF Ingenuity to transform habits

Financial Express link:http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/from-the-discomfort-zone-ingenuity-to-transform-habits/99/

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