Monthly Archives: November 2015

The First Industrial Visit

I was up at 6:30 a.m., like almost everyone else. It was our first visit to our allocated Industry, as part of the IV course that is spread over the 1st year. Everyone collected near Mess-1 by 7:30 a.m. – the mess had decided to open early, and it felt just like a picnic! Dozens of people ambling around, making sure that their entire group has managed to reach Sanchi Point to board the buses, trying to find out which of the many buses will head to their destination, eating and drinking and generally in a jovial mood. Our group leader who’d nicely instructed us to be dressed in smart casuals- with a full-sleeve shirt and sports shoes- managed to oversleep, waking up only at 7:30 a.m. All the groups headed to Dewas were to leave first, since Dewas is an almost 2-hour bus ride; the groups heading to Sector-3 of Pithampur were to follow; all the groups heading to Sector-1 in Pithampur and to Indore were to wait around until the buses dropped off the first lot of people and returned. This gave our group leader some additional lead time- he was at the venue, properly dressed up and looking unapologetic, by 7:45 a.m. He even managed to get some breakfast before we left campus at around 8 a.m. There were 5 groups on our bus, heading to 3 different industries. Now, we found the first one rather easily, since it was right on the highway and two groups headed off. We then began a wild-goose chase for the other two industries and managed to successfully drop off another group before deciding to use Google Maps and find our destination. Our group leader, armed with new information courtesy Google Maps, directed us to Jaydeep Ispat & Alloys by 9:30 a.m.
Large red signage that read ‘Moyra Sariya’ brought us to a halt. We got ourselves into their site office and sat around drinking coffee until the plant head, our guide, joined us by 10:15 a.m. We were given a short presentation about the industry and the process of making steel rods from scrap iron/metal. A plant tour was then in order- all 12 of us (2 groups) were taken around the facility by 4-5 senior people from the industry. Our tour began with the scrap yard where large mounds of scrap iron/metal were being moved around by a large, electromagnetic crane and another large tool called a ‘grasper’ that did exactly that- it grasped large chunks of the metal scrap with its 5 clawed arm and moved them into bins. These bins were for segregation of the scrap, according to composition- since the final product needs to have a certain fixed composition of various metals including iron, magnesium, chromium and nickel.
Our next stop was the furnaces- scrap metal was continually fed into large furnaces which I believe had a temperate of about 1600 degrees. The furnace just gobbling up large, different-sized pieces of metal, a bunch of electronic devices that controlled the temperature- current was being used to maintain the temperature- the devices displayed readings of voltage, current and the resulting temperature in real time. We stood there, watching as a furnace was turned on its side, impurities falling out into a designated container; the molten metal itself flowing out, when the furnace was turned over into giant buckets that they called ladles. We then moved over to the cooling area where molten metal flowed down vertically, and was showered with water, bringing the temperature down to about 800 degrees. The metal was then cast into billets. An unending stream of metal flowed, it was cut at pre-designated lengths and sprayed with water as it zoomed across a conveyor belt. Ahead, it was pressed into rods of varying diameters, ranging from 8 to 32mm. Heat emanated from what appeared to be bright, nearly neon orange streaks of light, zipping past us at unimaginable speeds- these streaks of light were in fact red hot metal rods! They then moved into a machine which runs based on German Technology, Thermax- they were fired with high pressure water from all directions- in a matter of seconds, hot red streaks of light seemed to flow in, get drenched, and sleek metal rods flowed out that were then stacked into place- now at less than 400 degrees. These were then loaded onto trucks and sent their way! We even got to see their workshop- where some of the machines are designed and produced, and the quality control lab where tensile strength and composition of random samples are periodically checked!
Still in a state of mesmerized daze, we walked back to their site office, for a Q&A session. All the engineers in our group had a bunch of technical questions about the processes while I listened carefully, trying to take in as much of the new information as I could. At the suggestion of the plant head, we then moved to more ‘management- related’ questions, about operating efficiencies, marketing the product and the organizational structure.

Post-lunch, a detailed organizational structure was explained to us- they’ve recently added an HR department too! It is a family-owned business and wishes to continue to remain so. 6 different projects- two operations-related ones- dealing with the acquisition of scrap, inventory and dispatch schedules, one HR project dealing with designing appraisal systems, a marketing project dealing with increasing their market share and selling more of their product to government projects, an Environmental-related project dealing with disposal and usage of their waste products and a last more technical project that dealt with the actual processes were then shared with us. We are to pick one or more of these projects- which are all related to the problems/improvement of the industry-, work on them over the next 6 months, make some recommendations and hope that they be actually implemented. All the projects sound enticing- the reward of seeing our recommendations in actual practice is sure going to be great.
We then headed back to campus and were back by around 6 p.m. We’re going to be working on projects for the concerned industry over the course of Term II & III.

This article has been written by Revant Sindhu, IPM ’12 student at IIM Indore

THE FLIGHT OF ICARUS

 

King Minos of Crete had imprisoned Daedalus and his son, Icarus inside the very Labyrinth that Daedalus had built. In order to escape it, Daedalus formed two pairs of wings by sticking feathers to wooden frame using wax. While giving one pair to his son Icarus, he warned him not to go too close to the sun. Icarus flew free from the prison with the help of those wings. As he soared high enjoying his moments of new found freedom he went too close to the sun, as a result the wings fell off and he died plunging into the sea. The very wings that had led him to freedom were the cause of his death. Hence was born the concept of “Icarus Paradox” coined by Danny Miller.

This concept today is applied to the business scenario where some businesses, which experience a period of outstanding success, fail abruptly. According to Danny Miller, “success seduces companies into failure through fostering overconfidence, complacency, specialization, exaggeration, dogma and ritual”. When we compare the list of Fortune 100 companies in 1966 to that of 2006, according to Harvard Business Review, 66 of the companies don’t even exist anymore. Despite being one of the ominous reasons of business failure very few companies give it its due notice.

There are four trajectories that companies usually make the mistake of taking to end up in the same situation as the fabled Icarus did.

  • Focusing Trajectory-This is the path taken by the “Tinkerers”. It is traveled by the operationally efficient, product obsessed and detail-perfectionists who keep on adding features to their products making it more and more perfect without taking the customers into consideration.image3
    Nokia- With the introduction of Symbian series 60 in 2002, Nokia remained the market leader in the mobile phones category for 5 years. Then in 2007 Apple introduced its iPhone, but not gauging the changing trends, Nokia stuck to its Symbian OS. And then came the era of Android and Samsung and Nokia was wiped out of existence. The talented tinkerers of Nokia were too focused on the product and not on the changing customer preference.
  • Venturing Trajectory-This path is walked on by the Builders turned Imperialists. The imperialists are the ones who keep spreading their businesses into categories unknown just to get a bigger share of the apple pie. They are led by highly creative planners and imaginative leaders, but then greed leads them astray, urging them to enter into businesses they have no idea of.
    6Quaker Oats- At one point in time, Quaker’s products were at number one and two positions in the US market in their respective categories. When Quaker bought Gatorade, it captured 84% of the sports’ drink market making it a huge success. This led Quaker to believe it can venture into other drink categories and repeat the success that it had with Gatorade. It bought Snapple in 1994 for 1.7 billion dollars. But it did not understand the niche market and had to set it at a mere 300 million dollars in 1997 which led to a loss of 1.4 billion dollars. So, it had to be acquired by PepsiCo in 2000 to get the financial bailout after the fiasco. The builders of Quaker Oats were left flabbergasted.
  • Inventing Trajectory-When the pioneers become escapists, they follow the inventing trajectory. When a company has the best minds as its resources and invests heavily in the research and development division, but focuses on building a futuristic and hopelessly advanced invention, it squanders all the wealth it has earned taking this road to nonexistence.
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    After the success of Macintosh and the ousting from his own company, Steve Jobs fueled by the success of the technology tried marketing NeXT. Jobs went on to invest heavily in making engineers design custom chips that integrated a variety of functions rather than going for the ones readily available. Also the computer was designed as a perfect cube making most of the parts that went into a computer to be re-engineered to fit in perfectly. This led to too high a cost for a computer and it failed in the market.
  • Decoupling Trajectory-The excellent salesmen when lost become the drifters that travel the path of decoupling trajectory. Instead of facing the issues with the products and the market’s demands they focus on just pretty packaging and sophisticated selling. Thus, becoming aimless and get detached from the core product of the company and try to sell increasingly unoriginal products.
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    After Apple introduced its iPad, HP also wanted to have its “me too” moment where it tried to sell a product just with the sheer force of selling it. Hence “TouchPad” was introduced. It had powerful video compatibility and excellent processing speeds, but despite large scale marketing and promotions, it was a massive failure and was taken out of the market quickly.

Source: The Icarus Paradox: How Exceptional Companies Bring About Their Own Downfall, Danny Miller

This article has been written by Ankita Jena, PGP-1 student at IIM Indore.

SETTING UP AN AMBUSH!

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1984, the year that George Orwell wrote about, the year in which Macintosh revolutionized the world of personal computers, the year which is legendary in more than one way. It is also the year in which “Ambush Marketing” concept was born. Before 1984, every Olympics that was hosted had a string of sponsors taking the number up to 628 at one point. In short the Olympic officials thought it was diluting the brand image. So in 1984, for the Los Angeles Olympics, only a set of sponsors were selected making the brand that sponsored selective and prestigious and at the same time opening the door to ambush marketers.

The term “Ambush Marketing” was first coined by the marketing guru, Jerry Welsh. It is defined as a covert marketing strategy in which rival companies ambush an event officially sponsored by a competing company for exposure. That in simple terms means hogging the limelight away. While the legality still stands under consideration, it sure is an entertainment for the audience.

1)      1984, when it all started – Kodak vs Fujifilm
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Fujifilm won the official sponsorship in the Camera category during the Olympics in LA. But Kodak, its long standing market enemy, had to ge      t back at Fujifilm. So it signed a deal to sponsor the broadcasts of Olympics. And as the broadcasts had a much larger audience than the live events had, Kodak played its own ads during the airing. In addition to this, Kodak also sponsored the US track team. Due to the mass exposure Kodak got as a result of this, people thought it was the official sponsor and not Fujifilm.

2)      Nike- The Goddess of Ambush Marketing

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Reebok paid over $20 million to be the official sponsor of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. But Nike left no stone unturned to show who’s the boss. Every billboard in the city was plastered with Nike ads, there was a Nike building built overlooking the Olympic Park and Nike was the heart and “sole” of many athletes! And anyone who has seen the games could not forget the golden Michael Johnson shoes that bore the famous swoosh logo.

3)      The Creative Ambushers- BMW vs Audi

‘Tis the story of two “rivalen” from Germany. One of their epic face offs took place on billboards. Audi put up a billboard saying:-
“The entirely new Audi A4. Your Move, BMW?”

And BMW came back with one of the wittiest repartee
“Checkmate”.
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4)      David vs Goliath, Samsung vs Apple
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Who cares what the courtroom battles resulted in, Samsung won when it came to the street fights! When Apple was scheduled to launch its iPhone 4S, Samsung rented a pop-up store mere meters away from the Sydney Apple store to sell Samsung Galaxy S2. It also offered a $2 discount to the first 10 customers. Some people who would have otherwise stuck to the Apple queue got tempted to join the queue for the Samsung phone.

5)      The best at Last- Bavaria Beers

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During the 2006 FIFA world cup, Bavaria Beers distributed free orange leeuwenhosens (Orange being the color of Dutch) to scores of people on the day of match between the Dutch team and Ivory Coast. FIFA authorities had anticipated the attack and asked the people in the orange leeuwenhosens to disrobe and these people watched the match in their underwear. By making this epic mistake of forcing people to watch a match with no clothes on, FIFA helped garner much more publicity for the Bavaria beers whereas the event was officially sponsored by Budweiser.

This article has been written by Ankita Jena, PGP-1 student at IIM Indore.

Incredible India

I arrived in India on the September 6th 2015. I chose India for my exchange semester because I was looking for a real culture shock. I was truly interested in East Asian cultures and was motivated to experiment culture really different from all European one. Therefore I could improve my cross-cultural competence. In comparison with other Asian cultures, the Indian one is internally diverse and that fact made my choice easier.

I got registered at IIM Indore, one of the best institutes of Management in India. Indore, which is the largest city in Madhya Pradesh, is centrally located in India. It is a good basis for travelling.

My first couple of hours in India were strong in sensations. The heat, the very high humidity, the smells and the noise in the streets, but also, the way of driving and the sacred free cows put me directly into another world.

I first arrived in Delhi from France and then took a flight until Indore where I met some IIM students, part of StepCom, the association which is in charge of the exchange students. They have been, and still are, very welcoming and helpful. I am really very happy to have fallen with them.

The IIM campus is pleasurable and its sports complex is very pleasant. The way of life is very different here than in Europe. On the campus, people almost never sleep. There are no week-ends, classes could be and are frequently scheduled on Saturday and Sunday. This was a little bit difficult on the beginning. Also, coming from France, one needs to adjust to a bit less organized and pre-planned environment. Receiving emails late in the night with readings or assignments for the next day session is something that is usual to happen. All the students live in hostel buildings on IIM Indore campus which is located at 45 min drive outside of the city of Indore. Therefore, staying late at night to work on a presentation for the next day is nothing surprising. It is a very different way of working than in Europe. One of the most important things I understood is to be able to enjoy my time here is that I had to stop trying to have everything the way I have it in Europe and to accept very soon that I am in a totally different culture. From that moment I just tried to adjust myself.

On my first travelling trip, I went to Agra, to see the Taj Mahal and then to Rajasthan (Jaipur and Udaipur). I really enjoyed it. This first experience out of Indore was intense and represented my first true initiation to India. We were two foreign girls travelling and had to accept that, as tourists, being overcharged (even on the water bottles!) was totally normal. That was a little bit difficult at the beginning because we always had the impression to be considered as stupid. My second trip was in Kajuraho and Orccha, which were beautiful. And today, the 30th of October, I am preparing myself for my third one. I am going to Nainital, one of the HOP destinations. This trip in the Himalayas, organized by IIM Indore, will last one week and, I am sure, will also be a very great time.

The best possible advice I can give to the other students coming from abroad is to come informed but without having any expectation on what they will experience in India as everything is possible in Incredible, magical India. Above all, stay open-minded! 🙂

This article is written by Lina El Quasri, an Exchange student from France at the IIM Indore campus.