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Old 16th March 2012, 17:27   #1
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Default Management lessons from the road

Note to Mods: I searched around the forum but could not find anything similar. Some of these pointers have been discussed as guidelines to drive. I am projecting some of these as management principles. Please merge with the Driving Guide thread if found inappropriate.

Driving is an enjoyable activity. More so, because it lets the drivers think and analyse their surroundings. Driving style is a direct resultant of a personís personality and says a lot about his attitude.
Having about 50000kms of tarmac under my belt across terrains, I thought to put up some general rules that incidentally, also hold true for managing an organization.

1. Transparency helps: It might be jazzy to have an opaque car (with dark all round film/high slanted rear windshield) where the guy following you cannot see whatís in store for you, but in case of a slight hiccup, you shall be the first one to be hit from the back. This is especially true for a company with an upward trajectory, as people rarely follow you downwards.

2. Stay on the right side of the law: Not following the law may have an adventure/gain quotient, but over the long term, law will sure catch up with you. A Rs. 45 + 10 minutes regular pollution check shall help you escape the INR 100 penalty + 20 minutes haggling time.

3. Identify the leader, and follow him closely: How many times have you seen a car just zipping through the crowd, and more often than not, another motorist clears the maze by following the leader. It calls for immense faith in the leader as also the ability to steer clear of the leaderís path if he gets into a roadblock. If you donít have the ability to create, have the ability to imitate.

4. Keep your eyes open for potential roadblocks: A steady cruise may be brought to an abrupt halt the moment you fail to notice the bullock cart that is crossing the way. It may not be your competitor and may not be planted by the competition, but can destroy your dream run.

5. Watch your back: Similar to the point above, it is necessary to know what is behind you in order to adapt your course/speed according to the situation.

6. Watch out for potential opportunities: Many times, you can spot an empty space in the fast moving lane. Other times you can judge from the speed difference of two cars that a space will get created soon. Have the eyes to spot these spaces and the power to move in when it seems beneficial. The Oberoi group is still reaping the gains of the Vilas hotels, all of whom were taken on cheap lease.

7. Never on autopilot: Autopilot works in autobahns where the perfect competition scenario is unfolding. In a competitive scenario, you need to keep an eye on the work, and on the business.

8. Automatic transmission is easy; itís the manual that will take you ahead. Automated processes can help iron out the inefficiencies of the regular operations. However, it is only the creative people who can invent processes dynamically. Value these people and let them choose their processes. It may not work sometimes, but usually you will have a winner.

9. Size matters both ways: An SUV may look intimidating in the rear view, and people might give it the first right of way, but in case of a block, it will be stranded for longer while a hot hatch can just weave its way through. Similarly, a behemoth may intimidate its competitors, and dissuade them from entering the industry; but in case of a change, a nimble footed organization will change course and succeed, leaving the giant stranded.

10. There is no point trying to beat down a super car; chase it nonetheless: Know your territory, there is no point trying to beat down a 500 bhp supercar with your 75bhp hatch. Even though, trying to chase it will take you ahead of your siblings. Fight with people your size, and aim to get closer to the ones that are bigger.

11. Carve your niche: This requires knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Similar to last point. Donít give up thinking you are weak. Identify your strengths and play the game on those. A 150cc bike can give a supercar a run for its money when it comes to negotiating a busy street. Similarly, a ZTE/ Huawei can succeed in the Indian market selling Tata Photon Internet Dongles.

12. Both the machine and the driver are equally important: A 500 bhp car will crash in the sidewalls in the hands of an incompetent driver. Also, a Michael Schumacher behind the wheels of a Fiat Padmini will not win rallies. The organisation and the human resource need to be properly aligned for best performance. It includes training and development of the employees, as also constant updating of the organizational resources.

13. Humility matters: Even if you dream of the sky, keep your eyes on the ground (low-beam). A high beam can set you on a collision course with another vehicle. If your eyes are up, he will never be able to see your actual purpose, and your course may be considered defiant. Even a lowly clerk in a government office, or a journalist, or a rights activist can derail your huge plans.

14. Using the public transport may cut the clutter at places: Instead of driving through till the city centre, park in the fringes and take the subway to the centre. It may be uncomfortable and void of exclusivity, and you may need to adjust to other people, but you will travel faster. Similarly, lobbying alone may get you exclusive privileges, but the possibility is low; align to a bigger group to target better results.

15. Safety: Itís for your own good, not for the police. It may not be fashionable, but a safe shell will protect you in case of an eventuality. Had Kingfisher followed a proper and sound business model instead of investing in fashionable frills, it would have been in a sound (if not great) condition today.


Please add on to the list.

Cheers,
Tapish
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Old 17th March 2012, 15:25   #2
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Default Re: Management lessons from the road

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Street Experiences Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 17th March 2012, 18:54   #3
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Default Re: Management lessons from the road

Brilliant article. Let me see if I can add some more to this.

Know your capabilities and do the best within these parameters. In cars this means not attempting to do 160 on a winding road in a high GC vehicle like a Scorpio for example. In the business world, it means honestly analysing your business and staff and working accordingly.

Speeding is not always the best policy. I remember a friend of mine once did this experiment. We did a long drive and on the way there he kept pushing the car up to about 120 or so and we timed our drive. On the way back, he stayed at a steady 80 all the way. The difference in time was about 5 minutes and the mileage was remarkably better on our way back. What happened was on the way there after getting up to 120 within a minute or so, he was braking hard and coming down to 60 or so for another minute and then accelerating again. In business this means keeping your business running smoothly with the clients you have and taking in new clients selectively, instead of indiscriminately taking on new clients and struggling to service them.

Maintaining your car is the most important thing. In car terms a well maintained car will last longer and drive better. In business terms, your employees are your most valued possession. If you look after them well, they will work hard for you and give you good returns.

Periodic overhauls are needed. In car terms this means do not avoid your 10,000 km maintenance or your car will run badly. In business terms this means regularly evaluating what your business is doing and what the competitors are doing. There are various companies that once were blue chip and extremely big companies, but today are bankrupt.

Can't think of anything else at the moment but when I do will update this.
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Old 17th March 2012, 20:49   #4
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Default Re: Management lessons from the road

Quote:
Originally Posted by pganapathy View Post
Speeding is not always the best policy. I remember a friend of mine once did this experiment. We did a long drive and on the way there he kept pushing the car up to about 120 or so and we timed our drive. On the way back, he stayed at a steady 80 all the way. The difference in time was about 5 minutes and the mileage was remarkably better on our way back. What happened was on the way there after getting up to 120 within a minute or so, he was braking hard and coming down to 60 or so for another minute and then accelerating again. In business this means keeping your business running smoothly with the clients you have and taking in new clients selectively, instead of indiscriminately taking on new clients and struggling to service them.
Good point, Sir

There is a parallel in the Aviation industry, Maximum Power and maximum continuous power. MCP refers to the power that willl keep you going for a longer time and return the best results.

Cheers,
Tapish
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Old 18th March 2012, 04:38   #5
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Default Re: Management lessons from the road

Here is my bit, this has been said many times in the forum and outside as well.

1. The Road isn't a race track, do not get intimidated nor intimidate others by excessive honking and race with folks on the street, whatever the time of day or night. Have seen enough accidents on the roads because of this alone.
2. Keep safe distance from irritating folks (either ahead or behind). if you find someone irritating you (By excessive honking) or trying all tricks to show you that he can drive faster then you. Either I drive fast enough to keep many car distance between myself and this car, alternatively (and this has worked for me all the time), let him pass, and irritate someone else.
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Old 19th March 2012, 10:08   #6
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Default Re: Management lessons from the road

Adding my two pence.

In the driving seat, you are akin to a team leader/ CEO. Whatever be your car, pay heed to your passengers (HR). Driving fast on a winding road may get your passengers car-sick. Driving fast might look good to an outsider, but would have your passengers (fellow team members) cursing you for this act.

Last edited by 220kmph : 19th March 2012 at 10:37. Reason: correction
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Old 20th March 2012, 13:08   #7
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Default Re: Management lessons from the road

Quote:
Originally Posted by 220kmph View Post
In the driving seat, you are akin to a team leader/ CEO. Whatever be your car, pay heed to your passengers (HR). Driving fast on a winding road may get your passengers car-sick. Driving fast might look good to an outsider, but would have your passengers (fellow team members) cursing you for this act.
Would you include market analysts and shareholders as outsiders here?

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Old 20th March 2012, 14:05   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapish View Post
Would you include market analysts and shareholders as outsiders here?

Cheers,
Tapish
Absolutely.

Here's another one. "Plan ahead. Don't take your body where your mind hasn't already been."

In other words, visualize the road ahead (especially off the beaten path) and think how are you going to get your vehicle (and it's passengers) in and out of that track.
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