Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The Flip Side of Google Search

Rahul, a fresh engineering graduate, was trying his hands at rubik’s cube. He said,” after doing google search and watching youtube videos, I have been able to crack the code. The world’s fastest player can solve the puzzle in barely a minute. I have studied his instruction set 15 times and I am able to crack the code in approximately 4 minutes.” What happens when you a solve a puzzle without applying your mind; relying on google search or a guide in the first go?

In this process of solving a puzzle, I was wondering whether the goal is more important than the journey or the end is more crucial than the means?
What happens when we are obsessed with the goal (scoring marks, getting a job, expecting a promotion) without giving due importance to the means ( thinking, creative problem solving, putting the right efforts in getting results etc) Students may score marks without a deeper understanding of the subject. Managers may get short-term results by taking short cuts (quite relevant for sales managers in March, the year-ending) and feel that the company is doing great because of them, quite often, it is in spite of them. In short we tend to remain mediocre.
The following two examples of Nobel laureates underscores the importance of fuzzy logic and creative thinking over the desire to get the right answer.
A physics professor asked his students, “How would you measure the height of our department building if you are given a pressure gauge?” Most of the students gave the expected answer which is based on the correlation of pressure with altitude. One of the students said, “There are different ways you can calculate the height of the building which include:
1.    Tie a long rope to the pressure gauge; drop it from the terrace, the length of the rope corresponds to the height of the building.
2.    Take the same contraption, use it as a pendulum, calculate the time required for one oscillation. Based on the time you may arrive at the length.
3.    Traverse the height of the building by using the gauge like a foot-ruler. The length of the gauge multiplied by the times used will show the height of the building.
4.    Offer a cup of tea or coffee to the admin manager and get the building details.
The professor asked the student,” Don’t you know the right answer?” The student said,” I know the answer but it is quite boring and routine.” 
The professor was Ernest Rutherford, considered as the father of nuclear physics, recipient of Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908 and the student was Niels Bohr, a Danish Physicist known for atomic structure and quantum theory and Nobel Physics recipient in 1922.
 Enrico Fermi, the Italian-American Physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics had a novel way of problem solving. He was heading a team of scientists working on the project of the Atom Bomb. The first bomb was detonated in July 1945 in the New Mexico desert. The shock waves reached the base camp forty seconds later, where the scientists stood in stunned contemplation. Just a few minutes before the blast, Fermi took a page from a notebook and shred it into pieces. The moment the shock was felt, Fermi released the pieces over his head. The pieces landed at a distance of 2 metres behind him. Within a minute, Fermi estimated the strength of the bomb to be 10,000 tonnes of TNT. The sophisticated machines which analyzed the voluminous data of pressure, temperature and wave velocity took weeks to come at a similar conclusion.
While teaching his students, he asked them, “What is the approximate circumference of earth?” The students expressed their apprehension that without referring to an atlas or an encyclopedia the answer would be difficult. (There was no google search then!) Fermi then said, “the distance between New York and Los Angeles is 3000 miles (4800 kms) and the time difference between them is three hours. As the earth takes 24 hours to rotate around itself; which is 8 times the above distance, the approximate circumference is 4800 x 8 which is 38,400 Kms.” The actual circumference of earth is 40,075.5 kms and the variation is 4%. ( ref: Contextual Selling, A New Sales Paradigm for the 21st Century, Rajan Parulekar p101)
Google search has its own relevance and validity but should it replace human thinking, creativity and ingenuity?Let us see what happens when we depend excessively on GPS devices  for navigating through streets without applying our brains? According to the researchers at University College, London, (UCL) using GPS navigation to reach to your destination, may ‘switch-off’ parts of the brain that would otherwise be used to simulate different routes.   The study involved 24 volunteers navigating a simulation in central London while undergoing brain scans. Hugo Spiers, one of the researchers from UCL says, “Our results fit with models in which the hippocampus simulates the journey on future possible paths while the pre-frontal cortex helps us to plan which ones will get us quickly to our destination. When we have technology telling us which way to go; however, these parts of the brain simply do not respond to the street network. In that sense our brain has switched off its interest in the street around us.” Remember the adage, use it or lose it!
It is said that India produces the 2nd largest pool of science graduates and engineers in the world. ( I have not done Google search on that!) In spite of that different surveys reveal that 75% of the graduates are unemployable.
My Guru, (Late) Dr. Gopal Valecha was an eminent Industrial Psychologist. After receiving his Ph.D. from Iowa State University his guide asked, “Gopal, what do you think you have accomplished now?” Gopal said, “I think I can prefix Dr. with my name.” His guide replied, “ more than that, you will know how to read a book.” On similar lines, can our universities create a thought process in their students, “now that you have graduated from our university, can we expect that you will know how to think, rather than looking out for readymade answers elsewhere?”

Rajan Parulekar| Paradigm Trainers Private Limited, Bangalore| 98450 

Sunday, 26 November 2017

The Application of Buddha’s Four Noble Truths in daily life.

The Buddha teaches us that if we perform one task at a time with complete awareness,  it could lead us from confusion to enlightenment,  writes RAJAN PARULEKAR      
1. Truth of suffering 
2. Truth of the origin of suffering 
3. Truth of the goal 
4. Truth of the path to the goal
The first sermon the Buddha delivered after his enlightenment was on the Four Noble Truths.  Quite often it is felt that the Buddha was pessimistic, and that he was against the good things in life when he uttered the first noble truth — life is dukkha — suffering. It is not so. Suffering can be interpreted in terms of day-to-day anxieties and irritations. When we are all by ourselves,  the thought that something is missing, and the feeling that we are not our ideal self, and all the current problems start troubling us.  Actually,  we don’t think.  These thoughts surface by default, without our choice. These random thoughts include the pain of earning a living,  keeping near and dear ones happy,  job uncertainties and many more such concerns.  
For those going through an existential crisis,  questions like ‘What is the purpose of life?’‘Who am I?’also add to the irritation. This constant chattering of the mind about the past and the future is the first noble truth,  the truth of suffering.  We try to get rid of this suffering by working hard in our existing jobs or business,  reading self-help books,  attending spiritual retreats or personality development programmes. We try different options to calm the chattering mind, but beyond a superficial feeling of well-being,  the pain resurfaces.  
Do self-help books really help? In the US,  the self-help industry is thriving. In spite of being pioneers in self-help and having the latest objects of desire,  the country has alarming crime and divorce rates,  with a pervasive feeling of loneliness.  Incidentally, research shows that people who are dependent on self-help books invariably tend to buy another book within the next 18 months. Paradoxically,  while book sales go up,  consumers of these books keep looking out for new techniques all the time.  
Our constant endeavour to drive away pain and suffering either by acquiring new objects or by trying to follow self-taught self-improvement techniques all contribute to cause suffering;the second noble truth — the truth of the origin of suffering.  After running on this hedonistic or spiritual treadmill for long,  somehow the mind gets exhausted. You say to yourself, enough is enough and stop trying. You accept the way you are;you accept your chattering mind. Lo and behold, magic happens. There is a gap between consecutive thoughts. Your thought process slows down.  Now you start seeing gaps,  the emptiness between two thoughts,  and you come to be at peace with yourself. 
Your mind shifts from the past and future to the present moment. This is the third noble truth — the truth of the goal.  But these gaps are intermittent,  ephemeral. If you start craving for the gaps,  you go back to the first noble truth. The truth of suffering.  The fourth noble truth is the truth of the path to the goal.  Imagine you are making a cup of tea. Pour the water into the kettle,  and feel the sensation.  Watch the water boiling and feel the steam and the warmth.  Pour the tea powder into the kettle,  smell the aroma of tea leaves in the boiling water. 
Allow the tea to percolate, watch your mind while pouring the tea slowly into the cup;sitting comfortably in your chair,  start drinking it with mindfulness.  Observe the sensations at your lips,  the tongue and the way the tea travels down the food pipe.  While doing this,  you are in the present moment all the time and appreciating the tea with all the five senses:the aroma, the taste,  the colour,  the warmth of the cup as well as sensation,  while tea is going down the gullet.  
When you perform every action in a similar mindful way, you are actually disconnecting the chattering mind and that is the fourth noble truth:the truth of the path to the goal. Practise even ordinary activities with total awareness and complete attention.  Let it be choiceless.  Every activity whether small or big, if done mindfully, leads to salvation. And that is the truth of the path to the goal.  
When we are multitasking with a chattering mind, hovering in the past or the future, we are perennially suffering. When we are doing one task at a time with complete awareness,  we are the present moment. That is the journey from nowhere to now and here, a paradigm shift from confusion to enlightenment. 

For more such artical pleas go through our book Contextual Selling

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Why market pulse is more critical than a superior product design?

In the early 90s Airbus and Boeing, the two major players in commercial aircrafts decided to come together to manufacture Very Large Commercial Transport (VLCT). Later on both the competitors parted ways as their business strategy could not synergize. Ultimately in 1994 Airbus decided to go solo on this venture and the project was codenamed A3XX. And thus the first flight of A380, the largest commercial aircraft happened in 2007 which is a double-deck, wide body 4-engine aircraft with 6000 square feet of usable space, 40% more space than its nearest rival product Boeing B747-8. A380 could accommodate 500 seats in 3-class capacity (Economy, Business and First Class) or 850 in an all-economy class.

With several delays the project cost escalated from the initial 9 billion to 13 billion Euros.
Product Pricing and Positioning: The A380 had a seating capacity which was 5 times the Airbus A320 Neo but the price point was 4X . The List price of A 380 was $430 Million whereas A320 was $107 Million. The product was received well after its launch. However in the last few years the customers, the airline companies are either cancelling the orders or postponing the delivery dates. The peak production which was at 30 aircrafts per year has dwindled to 12 per annum.
In spite of excellent product features, good quality (50% quieter than competition product) and the right price, why did Airbus started losing on the business for A380? The anticipated exponential growth in passenger traffic from hub-to–hub was the cornerstone on which Airbus decided to make A380. Hub-to-hub traffic for Air India is like New Delhi–London, for Singapore Airlines it can be from Singapore to Dubai or Frankfurt etc. One aspect that was overlooked was that of the point-to-point traffic. When the traffic between two points crosses a minimum threshold, airlines can afford to have small or midsized aircrafts which is more economical than transferring through the hub.

Even though the air traffic grew considerably; instead of it growing from hub-to-hub it started increasing from point-to-point. For example 10 years back, Air India used to have seven flights from Delhi to London and passengers were picked up from Hyderabad, Bangalore etc. Now all this airport being choc-a –block, it makes better business sense for airline companies to transport passengers directly from Bangalore to Cardiff/Manchester rather than routing them through hubs like Delhi and London. What is the learning for Sr. management from these?
1.     A technically superior product with better specifications even though necessary is not sufficient for long-term success.
2.     Appropriate price positioning even though crucial need not be a game changer.
3.     Factor X: Identify the factor x which is insignificant today but can become significant in future (that is generally overlooked) which can seriously affect your business strategy. ( In this case it was the point-to-point traffic) In case of Nano car, legend says that Shri Ratan Tata while doodling decided to launch a cheap car while seeing a family of four on a scooter. One factor which was overlooked was for majority of the Indians having a car was more of an aspiration and a status symbol ( emotional decision) than a cheap car as a mode of safe and convenient transport.(logical decision) Doodling can sometimes be an expensive proposition!
And last but not the least, there is nothing called as a right or wrong decision. All decisions are evaluated in posterity. Time is the best judge!

Nassim Nicholas Taleb author of books like Black Swan, Fooled by Randomness or Anti _Fragile says for most of us absence of evidence is interpreted as evidence of absence (Please read the book review: Anti –Fragile: How to Live in a world we don’t Understand) Be Humble!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Enhance Profitability by Managing Outstanding Collections

Most of the salespeople feel that their job responsibility is limited to achieving the targeted order bookings.  In a desperate bid to sell, quite often they agree for ridiculous credit terms set by the customer. 
However from an organizational perspective, a sales transaction is never complete unless the vendor has received the FULL  payment for the products/services he has supplied;  and which has been duly  credited to his account. Having the money in bank is more critical than having it on paper!
The webinar will provide you a comprehensive tool kit in not only improving the cash-flow but also your profitability.
For Whom :
The program is useful for Executives and Managers from Sales & Finance who are in B2B/B2C, Industrial products, Financial Services, and from Verticals like: Engineering, Financial Services, Hospitality, IT, Insurance, Logistics, Pharma, Telecom etc.
Main Themes : 
Major Themes:
  1. Effect of late collections and its impact on Cash Flow and Profitability
  2. What needs to be collected apart from money
  3. Types of Losses with delayed payments:   Opportunity cost, Interest Cost etc.
  4. How advance improves the profitability
  5.  Do's and Don’ts for Collections
  6. Check List for a Pre & Post-Collection Documentation
Trainer : 
- Author: Contextual Selling, A New Sales Paradigm for the 21st Century
- Trained more than 10,000 salespersons from 500+ companies since 1995
- 30 years of experience in Sales & Marketing including with Toshniwal, L&T & Wiltron USA
- Best Sales Performance in Asia Award while working for Wiltron USA -1990
- Winner of the Toastmasters' International Speech Contest in USA – 1997
We are Conducting Webinar Enhance Profitability by Managing Outstanding Collections on this program 
on 29th Nov 2017 @ 11am.
How To Attend :
Minimum Hardware Requirement:
  1. Computer: with Windows 7 or 10
  2. Broadband Connection with minimum 2 MBPS speed
  3. Latest Flash Player
  4. Headset with Microphone, Camera ( Optional )
Investment: Rs. 1416/- per person ( Rs. 1200 + 18% GST)
Please send a mail with your name, company, mail ID and phone to:
For details Call: 080- 2359 7930/9880236793 or go through our website:
We shall send you an invitation to enter the Virtual Class Room.

Difference between Convincing & Con-Vincing

Soumyajeet Mohanty ran  Edu Solutions,   an educational consultancy service in Bhubaneswar Odisha. Initially he started  Sunrise Coac...