Thursday, March 29, 2012

LIC Single-Premium ad gaffe

Advertising space in newspapers come at a very high premium. Second only to the television. The premium increases with the placement of the ad in the newspaper. Top-right hand or a jacket ad or a double-spread ad. A gaffe is quite a rarity in newspapers since it is proof-read. However a gaffe such as the above is quite serious ( Single premium ad followed by a post to be careful about the product). Surely it was not intentional from the newspaper. Yet LIC marketing managers must be irate on seeing this piece. The damage may not be too much considering the clutter of ads and information on financial products. LIC managers and more importantly their advertising agency and media agency, should be doubly careful the next time around.

Source: Economic Times 28th March 2012 Page 13

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An analogy between Sachin Tendulkar and your veteran Chief Executive

If there is one thing in India that can overshadow the budget session, which is followed with much interest, then that thing has to be cricket. Last week as the Indian Finance minister was busy reading out the script, an unwritten script was unfolding. Although this was expected a lot earlier, one would say “better late than never”.

I am of course talking about Sachin Tendulkar eclipsing the Mount Everest and making his own peak for others. A peak others won’t dare let alone think of. My mind though wanders on the diverse opinions made by the connoisseurs. Some want him to retire now, some wanted him to retire after the world cup, some want him to play till he feels he wants to play, some feel the selectors should adopt a touch stand and make him toe the line on his retirement plans so that the team can be built for the future and the opinions continue unabated.

I could draw an analogy to a corporate executive who has served his company for over 3 decades has risen from the rank of a trainee to the chief executive. When the trainee climbs up the ladder with his outstanding talent, he is given the room to experiment. This blossoms him further catapulting the company into high growth and making that employee the celebrity. Same is the case of Sachin Tendulkar. As a prodigy, he showed India how to be aggressive yet maintain its demeanor. The growth was phenomenal. Just like a novice to the highest echelons of power. He has everything at his mercy.

Law of nature though has to take its own course. With age, Sachin’s mastery started diminishing. Just as the Chief Executive’s decisions did not work as before. The market changed and so did the though process. Sachin’s age took toll and bowlers/ captains started getting a measure of him, albeit to a very less extent. Now the chief executive started becoming a liability. Fresh ideas needed to be included but who would ‘bell the cat’ and tell the CEO to hang up his boots. Who will tell Sachin Tendulkar to retire?

In a company, grapevine would probably used to tell the CEO that he is no longer the force to reckon with. In Sachin’s case, the media does that job. The CEO has achieved everything, topline-bottomline-profits-new products- innovations- acquisitions- you name it and that’s been achieved. Just like Sachin. Anything achieved more will not make much of a difference to the already burgeoned cabinet. A Cabinet with invisible accolades.

Borrowing from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, both have reached the self-actualization stage. Both live to contribute towards others. In Sachin’s case, it’s the country and for the CEO, its his company. Let them be where they are. They know when is the right time to call it quits. They would be the first one to accept it when they see the runs drying up or the strategies being not as effective as was construed.

Its very easy to criticize but very difficult to sustain excellence over a period of long time. Just like Sachin or the CEO, pointing about the lack of contribution after a spectacular career would amount to being called an opportunist or some one who uses people till their sell-by date and then removes them unceremoniously. As they say in cricket, “form is temporary, class is permanent”. Sachin should decide when he has to go. Similarly the CEO too would know his sell-by date. Hankering after them to quit would be gross injustice to their contribution.