Category Archives: Editorials

Opinion from the experts of IIM Indore. Views mentioned here are strictly personal.

Does sustainability mean going backwards?

I spoke with conviction that without a feasible model that generates enough money, there is  hardly a soul who would like to invest themselves whole heartedly into the pursuit of sustainability, and this explained the lack of talent in this field despite good intentions.

What we have been brought up to do is follow small practices in our everyday life, the 4Rs wherever possible. However, when I was given a picture of what complete sustainability looks like, it freaked me out. It meant going back through the ages and living on hand-me-downs for your entire life. It meant living without producing any waste at all. Whatever comes out of the earth should go right back into it.

This is the picture that Padam Shri Ms Janak Palta McGilligan conjured in my mind as I spoke with her between her sessions and throughout her talk at IRIS 2016. I have been firmly advocating the sustainable development goals since the day they got adopted by the UN, however this made me stop and think about if I was sufficiently dedicated to the cause. I realised I wasn’t.

The question isn’t whether you stand for sustainability. It is how much are you ready to give up for it.

I never waste electricity or water, even for a second, sometimes to the annoyance of my friends who have no regard for nature. I stare at people if they litter – until they feel embarrassed enough to find a dustbin. I fight with my parents if they begin to throw something out of the car window – since 5th grade when I learnt it is bad at school. Our house was the first one to stop bursting crackers in the entire colony when I was in 6th grade and participated in a painting competition that was based on this theme. I hesitate to throw anything away until I am certain it cannot be used anymore. I am highly mindful of what I buy to an extent that my mom considers it necessary to shop with me so that I can have some comforts we can afford.  Is this enough? I don’t think it is.

I am stuck in the path of negotiation where the only limits are those I put. Sometimes I try to argue myself out of the dilemma thinking that the world and the markets will adjust themselves to a state where humans still manage to sustain. This is nothing but self serving logic though and I understand this is not how things work. I am easily taken by any argument that proclaims apocalypse unless we adopt certain practices. However going the full way is too much. Our civilization as a whole has worked towards creating a comfortable environment and if we do not take full advantage of it, then it would be disrespectful to their genius.

Having said that, it is also not right if we are partial to our comforts when we take advantage of our progress. We should be humbled by nature – because we now understand its bounty much better than our ancestors. It is thus the pursuit of knowledge that I advocate more than anything else.

How much do I wish to give up for sustainability? Nothing at all. Sustainability needs to be sustainable in itself – not a communist concept which fails when it strikes against basic human nature. Nevertheless, if your nature is so noble, as was of the great person I had the pleasure of meeting, I wish I could be more like you. Your ideas add to the pool of knowledge that we are ever hungry for. For the rest, strike your own informed balances.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of Hiral Arora, an IPM IIM Indore student. They do not reflect the ideas of the institute in any way.

THE DAY I WENT KAYAKING

There are some things we feel are far too big for us to care about. They seem irresolvable – distant – not our problem.

But they could very well be!

Today was a tiring day, we went snorkelling and kayaking (and the best part was the open bar on the boat!). We finally headed back to our hostel to relax for a while, perhaps just lounge in the balcony.

I think I dozed off for a while because I didn’t even realise when Roger came and sat down next to me. He smirked in my direction, I must have fallen asleep with my mouth hanging open again. He offered me a can of beer and a cigarette (which I obviously refused, lol).

Roger had served in the US Military for 30 years before he took voluntary retirement. He had no one. No mom, no dad, no cousins, no wife, no kids. No friends either.

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Roger is gay.

He had always lived a life of loneliness. He discovered his sexuality very late in life, at a time when people did not know that gay people existed. He was sent to a mental correction facility for treatment. He was never married. He never had the right to marry anyone (Thanks, Obama). Now at 61, he longs for company, a partner who he can talk to. Someone who can just sit with him and watch the sunset. He is lonely.

I beg you to look in his eyes. Does this look like a face of a lonely man? It looks to me like a face of a happy man, someone who has had many laughs, his face wrinkled with signs of happiness. He does not deserve to be alone. Any one would be lucky to have him as his partner. He looks like popoye goddammit! He is so young at heart, I sometimes don’t remember he is thrice as old as me. I want to be his friend.

Roger has been receiving his monthly pension and living in Mexico for the past month. He spends his days drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. Sometimes drugs come to the rescue.

He says, everyone in America hates every other person. There is so much hatred and sadness in the society, that an individualistic culture just burns a man up. There is no one to share an emotion with. People are too engrossed within themselves and everyone carries a fucking gun. Why do you need a gun?!

He  told me to be careful when in Mexico and just call him in case I need anything. He’s a good man.

What are the chances of running into a man like this, on your foreign exchange stint? The same as BEING that man.

Now that we all have met Roger, this problem is not so distant anymore.

 

 

Learn all about Mexico from the eyes of Niloy Jain, 5th year IPM Student currently on his student exchange program. He is enthusiastic about travelling and photography and he writes amazing diaries! Hiral Arora, reporting live from a facebook chatbox.

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.

The MBA Jargon-ry

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“Incomprehensible jargon is the hallmark of a profession”.

                                                                                               ~ Kingman Brewster

In the era in which we live, business jargons have become the invariable substitutes for concrete, genuine ideas. From the time you enter a business school to the time you exit through those hallowed gates, you are constantly submerged by waves of ambiguous jargons. These MBA buzzwords have become the quintessential mantra for survival in any business school.

In reality, these jargons are more of euphemisms, more often than not, masking our incompetencies and ineffectiveness. Here are the 10 most-used day-to-day MBA jargons, and the meanings they may actually seek to convey.

  • We need to focus on our core competency.

We do not have money to invest in other lines of business so let’s just stick to what we already have.

  • We offer the best value proposition.

  An ordinary product with ordinary uses, but whose utility is magnified with some help from Kotler.

  • What are the deliverables?

  A buzzword thrown in to make any case study sound more official and difficult.

  • We need to incentivize them.

People are simply not interest so let’s create a compelling situation by way of force.

  • It’s time to think outside the box.

 Our ideas are clichéd and we have nothing better to offer at the moment.

  • There is a need to increase profitability.

          A usual attempt to show that one is finance-oriented and can think beyond simple    sentences.

  • We believe in contributing meaningfully to the society.

We are forced to stick to the mandatory CSR norms, or else that money would still be in our business.

  • It’s about developing a go-to-market strategy.

I have the ideas but have no idea about how to implement the final plan.

  • The outcome will lead to potential synergies.

The company cannot grow on its own, but with your assistance even 1 + 1 can be greater than 2.

  • It’s all about maximizing shareholders’ value.

We adhere to the basic principle of ‘don’t mess with the people who provide your daily bread’.

By- Avantika Tikmany, PGP1

Curious Case Of the NGO

NGO’s are a capitalist phenomenon. A very humanitarian approach to the issue would have ensured that there’s never an imbalance- and it is definitely more than an imbalance that we are talking- 90% of the world’s wealth is held by 10% of the world’s population or so we are made to believe.

Such an outlook prompts a few of us (perhaps the 90%) to wake up and wish to ‘give back’ to society, for we perhaps wrongly feel that we have gained a lot, influenced or more importantly been helped by world that surrounds us. But, in fact, we are merely humanistic individuals caught up in an increasingly capitalist world. It is hard to keep a straight face, to keep from breaking down, when you meet (though not often) people who want & want and seem to keep wanting endlessly. It does not seem right. Humans (note how I can finally say ‘humans’ instead of humanistic individuals) are inherently good; we are then raised to believe in a layered society and the concept of money & status.

Money (or wealth) is definitely not the only way to achieve a social standing- it becomes the preferred means though, because of its ease. Yes, making money is easy- all it needs is a lot of very selfish motivation and self-centered growth. But then, since humans are not inherently wired to meet these needs or fulfill these profiles, it is but a handful of people.

You have to prove that you do not need a loan to get one; you have to prove that you know how to work Excel, to get a job that will train you how to use it. It’s a world of ironies- that is but the world built by capitalism.
We call upon capitalist institutions to change the world- but the world is but shaped by these.

I return to what we began with, NGO’s are indeed a capitalist phenomenon. The money rising from capitalist activities is doled out to the ‘poor’ who again stem from the advent of a capitalist system- for our own ‘capitalized’ souls to feel better. We yearn to break through, to break away from it all- and that inexplicable happiness that stems from a young boy’s face lighting up- we sleep over that happiness for that’s all our little conceited, hurt selves will allow.
Perhaps, we need to move beyond; perhaps we realize that & all we can manage in this world is a little we give; we want to move beyond, we’re bounded and forever.

Break, give, stop. Give a little to someone who needs it more than you, today, this hour.

This article has been written by Revant Sindhu, an IPM-4 participant of IIM Indore