Sunday, November 25, 2012

Robot Medical Representatives!

Being an employee is a challenge due to market uncertainties!  If machines can do a job reliably certainly investors would prefer machines to human employees!!  So what are the key attributes that employees can offer over machines (including robots)?  And what are the key traits that employees need to cultivate to make oneself and the employer firm succeed?  Here is a checklist:

1) Effectiveness: is a circumstance based thing, each doctor call can be a different experience, meeting the same doctor on each day will offer a different experience.  This uncertain nature requires taking rapid decisions at the moment based on the circumstance.  Hence, situation based effectiveness is the foremost quality of an employee, which will be valued by employers, and perhaps will take a long period for a robot to imbue.

2) Efficiency:  Robots are great at doing repetitive tasks with high efficiency, they will also do it diligently.  However, efficiency on the field will require inventiveness, to manage the moods of the doctor/pharmacist or boss/colleague, such efficiencies are still not in the ken of 'robot MRs'.

3) Tact:  Being tactful in workplace situations or dealing with prescribers/traders is tacit knowledge, programming the tactics and situational handling is still not possible!  Tact is knowing the level of integrity of a strategy or directive, which needs to be practiced in a situation, can robots be tactful and take a call on how much of a guideline to be implemented in a situation?!

4) Absence of "destroying power": There are various kinds of powers we see in practice - reward power, coercive power, expertise power, referrel or referent power, connection power and legitimate power.  However, there is one more power seen in firms, not yet mentioned in books of management - destroying power of employees/bosses.  This is the power with which people can sabotage or destroy various strategies, concepts, careers of colleagues etc due to their hidden agendas.  It can be done subtly or overtly.  This is one thing where robots may score over humans since they work as per programs, and not as per hidden agendas!!!  In any case, destroying power is a dangerous human phenomenon!

5) Punctuality: is a very valuable trait, makes a person dependable, robots may up the humans when it comes to showing on time!  So watch out, humans, plan and be punctual, why be late?

6) Involvement: is an emotional thing - which comes from inside and from an understanding of the situation, and also from empathy - can robots have involvement?  Tricky, robots will only do as programmed!

7) Relationship management and team play: this quality is not programmable, since values and principles differ from situation to situation.  Hence, humans will with all their frailities be required for field product promotion roles, robots cannot offer team play in situations, unless the situation is programmed, and in the marketplace one cannot expect programmed situations, only surprises jumping out of the box!

8) Casual versus professional conversational skills:  A typical field job requires conversational skills - not only on professional matters, but also other casual issues, so can a robot do this?  The blend of casual and professional talk is done in situ.

9) Reliability (trustworthiness): Robots will be as reliable as they are programmed and as long as the programs function without any glitches.  Humans deliver better on trust and faith, as long as the human is motivated enough. 

10) Knowledge hungry attitude: Being hungry for knowledge and having high absorptive capacity is a key to field success.  Can robots be programmed to be knowledge hungry and apply knowledge?!

11) Participative attitude:  To be successful in organizational life, a participative spirit (even in things one apparently dislikes) is a prerequisite.  Participation is situation based, and level of response is also situation based, so can robots be programmed to be participative?

12) Creative communication skills: the ability to send messages (verbal, non-verbal and written) depends on the event, mood of recipient and subjective factors, a robot programmed to deliver messages irrespective of prospects' mood will only annoy - RESULT: message delivered - but customer lost!!

13) Promptness (no procrastination or putting things off): Being proactive and prompt has its own strengths - this makes things happen and there is movement of things for the better, maybe robots will be better at being prompt, but humans too - if they are motivated enough.

14) Health and strength: are very vital attributes of employees, a nagging headache will spoil meeting participation, dental pain will prevent a MR from detailing ... Robots too need maintenance!!

15) Empathy, mood management and helping behaviour:  is a key for winning confidence of customers and colleagues.  If a MR understands needs of a doctor and offers help or a solution unasked for, a genuine help will always contribute to relationship building.  This understanding capacity can only be human, robots will require a lot of evolution!

16) Written and unwriten SOPs:  In an organization, there are several unwritten rules and written rules (or standard operating procedures), this is unique to the culture of the firm, all cannot be programmed, only understanding humans can smell them out and adapt!  Adaptabilty through learning is a human trait for survival, robots...?!

17) Practice of organizational living:  Being a part of an organizational web is not easy, there are cultural things to be learnt, these come from keen observation and self-absorption, so can robots learn organizational living?  Simple: in some organizations, you call people by first name, in others Sir/Madam or Mr. X - these qualities are not programmed, or programmable, they are meant to be learnt, it is a part of adaptation... for organizational living, learning to be a part of community is vital for career success.

18) Official and unofficial organogram: each organization has this, dotted lines connect people - these need to be observed and learnt, to get things done, understanding this organogram (written and unwritten) is important.

19) Primary business processes of the firm:  Each firm has a primary or core business process, such as for Sun Pharmaceuticals it is relationship management of allopathic specialists, in a knowledge driven approach.  One needs to understand such home truths of the employer firm.  Based on this primary business processes, which will not necessarily be completely written down, but will certainly be understandable, one needs to learn, adapt and allign to this.  Can robots do such complex things, without being programmed?

20) Self-defensiveness and presence of mind: life is but a process of defending oneself from potential or actual threats (which may be living or nonliving), threats have the potential to cause harm, loss and damage... knowledge and imagination is required to diagnose the immediate and future threats ... people who can defend oneself and the organization will be in demand!  So will robots come with self-defense solutions?

Robots depend on programs, humans on motivation.

Thanks for reading this blogpost, which provides a checklist of employee attributes, please scroll down and read other blogposts, and kindly do recommend this blog to your acquaintances, click on older posts, as and when required, when you read below.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Singapore Cycle

Recently (22.10.2012 TO 25.10.2012) - MANY THANKS TO MY EMPLOYERS, my family and self were in Singapore, this trip was a revelation to us, it was enjoyable, inspiring and educative, perhaps more impact making, than my earlier Germany and Switzerland visits.  Why?
At the Jurong Bird Park 

Because of these reasons -

a) IN SINGAPORE: We see among other things, disciplined and hard working people, conforming to laws of the nation - in letter and spirit !
b) Seeing is believing!  One can actually perceive the beneficial impact of corruption-free governance, this in fact, is the need of the hour in India!  (If India was corruption-free, India would have been a-la Singapore years back.  The bright spot in India is however, currently, Gujarat which is making rapid and progressive strides through a consistent development agenda.  The ex Chief Minister of Karnataka, Mr. S M Krishna, had some years back, advocated the Singapore model of development for Bangalore, that was truly progressive thinking!).
c) Singapore is about understanding the principle of work ethic in action.
d) A visit to Singapore, is experiencing the Singapore cycle, first-hand! (see below, please read in clockwise direction)

The Singapore cycle (my ideation) is a result of my travel and reflection, Singapore is an innovative nation with adaptive people, constantly ideating, creating a process for implementation of the idea, revisiting the process frequently (for continuous improvement and innovation), hence, resulting in more no. of ideas.  Thus, there is a lot of WIP (work-in-progress).  People at Singapore are constantly working on new projects and at the same time, ensuring the current completed projects are running efficiently and effectively.

The Singapore cycle can be effectively harnessed in pharmaceutical business working too.  The essential element of Singapore cycle is: continuously, honestly and tirelessly ideate and improve.

Seeing from the point-of-view of the consumer.  Empathy is the most predominant element of the Singapore cycle.  The tourist and citizen oriented processes are truly empathetic.  There are flyers and pamphlets kept at strategic points.  Maps, announcements and trained people help the tourist and common citizens reach their destinations.  Empathetic sign boards help people travel with ease.  Such approaches are evident at shows, and other public places, including at shopping centres.  Truly, there are consumer - centred processes working in Singapore.

This situation is the same with pharmaceutical marketing, where customer-centric working needs to be balanced with the limitations of business plans and resources.

Importance of tangible physical evidence!  Singaporeans are master marketers!  They provide lot of take-away literatures - beautifully printed and persuasively informative.  These literatures strengthen word-of-mouth and will certainly ignite interest among those who view the literatures when taken back home.  This not only strengthens Singapore's brand equity, it also creates potential tourist customers!  Added to this, the affordable Singapore souvenir items (eg., Merlion penstands, Merlion key chains, Merlion fridge magnets etc) inevitably purchased as gifts for people back home, works to strengthen Singapore's tourism market.  These are positive 'silent salesman' material for Singapore tourism!

The impact of such tangible physical evidence items truly brings home to the pharma marketer, the importance of creating useful, persuasive and attractive leave-behind items for doctors and pharmacists, in pharmaceutical marketing.

The feel-good factor through humour, hi-tech and hi-touch:  These three Hs (Humour, Hi-Tech and Hi-Touch) are artfully balanced at the tourist attractions of Singapore.  These three Hs can be seen in action, at the tantalizing shows in Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari (Creatures of the night) or Songs of the waves (Sentosa island):

- there is hi-tech (intelligent application of technology for superior consumer experiences)
- there is also hi-touch (there are plenty of people smiling, greeting and guiding, offering help, encouraging empathetically and professionally, making all the technology experiences people-friendly)
- there is also a lot of humour!  The experiences at the shows and other tourist attractions are designed at each step to delight and make you smile!  Singapore keeps you in good humour!

Such a three H approach is truly required in pharmaceutical marketing too, this will help deliver highly engaging customer experiences.

Sea lions in a show (Ocean atrium, Sentosa island): an engaging customer experience
Innovative display of healthcare products at a super market

Marketing ought to have a consumer-centric attitude, and user-centred approach, Singapore has mastered this approach.

Singapore's story is also a story of class and discipline.  Medical Representatives and pharma marketing personnel are also required to have class and ensure disciplined working.  Singapore has achieved class & discipline through careful placement of negative and positive reinforcers.  Fines and penalties for errant behaviour is the norm, while positive behaviour is amply rewarded!!

Singapore is truly a Mecca for Indians, if corporates send their employees to Singapore, or any layman Indian visits Singapore, he or she will truly understand what discipline means.  You just have to let your people wander about Singapore, visiting the various attractions and allowing them to generally soak in the atmosphere of Singapore.  The vibrations of honesty, discipline and progressive nature in Singapore are infectious, these vibrations will be well absorbed by visitors.  The change experience offered by Singapore to visitors will be positive - benefiting individuals and corporates.  Singapore is truly a Mecca for Indians.

The spots we visited are truly memorable: night safari, Singapore Flyer (a giant wheel that provides a great view of Singapore), Cable car at Singapore Sentosa island, Ocean atrium with the captivating dolphin show, laser show (Songs of the waves), images of Singapore show, Universal studios, Singapore zoo, Singapore river ride, Jurong Bird Park and Mustafa centre (shopping centre with a walk at Little India).

Singapore largely offers positive, family - centric, value based, top class (not low class or crass) experiences to visitors.  This is congruent to corporate needs too.  The evening parties at Singapore river banks are a great hit among corporates.  Many companies host river side evening and dinner parties for networking and team working for their employees.  In years to come, it is possible that Singapore will be a hot destination for the general tourist and corporate tourist too.

Once again through this blogpost: I accord my thanks to my employers for this Singapore visit.  

I request blog readers to kindly scroll down and read other posts, do click on older posts as and when required.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Employee productivity

Organizational standing, destiny and results stand on one truth: EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY.  When organizational members are alligned to the purpose of the firm, involvement is high, and skills sets are good, employee productivity is optimal.  It is the task of managers & management to be productive and elicit productivity from their peers and reportees.

Several factors go in making the entire set of employees productive - right from purchase dept., admin., production, R & D, quality, sales and marketing, all need to be productive and ALLIGNED to the objectives and organizational mission for optimal productivity.  There is also a need for harmonius productivity, if the sales demand is higher than production department productivity, then again, there is disharmony in productivity.  Optimal productivity is the engine of organizational progress.

There are two vital elements that help generate optimal productivity: TRAINING and MIS (Management Information System).

a) Training: has the focus of eliciting and reinforcing designed behavioural patterns.  If a MR has to make 10 doctor calls, mere monitoring and pressuring him to make the doctor calls and deliver the required goods will just not do!  A MR has to be taught the necessary knowledge & skills, motivated and guided on how to use the marketing kit and tools (including the communication media viz., visual aid, CDs, tablet PCs, leave behind literatures etc).  Training is an ongoing activity, with milestones - no permanent end points!  With each training module or activity a set of predetermined goals are achieved, then new goals have to be charted and accordingly training schedules, formats and media created.

The same concept applies to training activities for other departmental functions.  Training needs have to be mapped out, and training modules accordingly created - as per the mapped needs, with help of external instructors as and when required.  For instance, with each national Govt. budget announcements of changes to rules regarding income tax, corporate tax, excise duty etc are made, and it would be interesting to offer training programs to target constituents about these new happenings, so that training creates involvement and updated smart employees to execute their job functions with panache.

A worker who gets trained periodically - in soft skills and safety intructions, or machine operations will gain personal satisfaction, motivation, job involvement and improved on-job functioning.  Training breaks the monotonous hum-drum and reinforces necessary behaviours, rejuvenates, helps in recall and recaptulation, creates new behaviours required for effective and efficient job functioning. 

Training engages employees to generate required behaviours and sharper skills.  Training also helps in broadcasting/sharing trainer and trainee wisdom, so that new trainees are encultured, motivated and empowered.

The ripple effect of training is helping make the organization smarter.  Such a firm can handle daily uncertainties and challenges better, and also proactively do forward planning for better organizational working.

b) MIS (including database): is a powerful system that maps employee activities, captures transactions, customer data and helps provide timely reports for productive decision making.  A powerful aspect of MIS is the ability to auto-generate or generate through manual intervention, FEEDBACKS to employees.  These feedbacks may be objective, informational or motivational.  MIS helps in measuring and providing feedback. 

For eg., imagine that primary sales of a MR is continuously tracked day-to-day by the MIS, and after 15th of each month, if the MIS system auto-generates daily feedbacks on the status of primary sales versus monthly target, either by sms or e-mail, this will certainly act as a prodding agent for improved direction of working of MR.

Eg.: on 16.10.2012, a MR receives a sms: "CONGRATS, YOU HAVE ACHIEVED 65% OF YOUR MONTHLY RUPEE VALUE BUDGET ie. Monthly Sales Target, however, offtake of Product X is just 30%, meet core doctors of Product X and improve prescrition flow for Product X, and book more orders for Product X from chemists (POB)". 

Such timely MIS based feedback messages will make the MR more productive.  Feedback is a powerful method to enhance productivity.  Absence of feedback will lull the MR or employee to a comfort zone, which will kill organizational dynamism.

MIS has an all encompassing sweep.  In R & D sector, MIS reports can prod R & D thinktank to help reduce costs of producing a product X, or help identify the key costly ingredients, thus help provide direction for value engineering - look for alternative ingredients that help reduce cost without changing product performance.

Similarly, inventory control systems that generate MIS reports in a proactive manner will help purchase in forward planning and placing orders for vital ingredients ( eg., of ingredients whose inventory is low to avoid production delays).

Hence, we observe, the two vital keys for employee productivity are - TRAINING and MIS (the data capturing and report generating systems for timely and fast feedbacks).

For optimal employee productivity, creation of a positive and magnetic organizational climate is necessary but not easy-to-do.  It requires a careful placement of negative and positive reinforcers, incentives for desirable results and behaviours, and subtle disincentives for undesirable behaviour and below par results.  A morale boosting, engaging and empowering way of company systems will definitely help boost employee productivity.

Communication systems (horizontal, down-the-line, zig-zag and down-top) are critical for building teams, since employees have to work in groups to achieve organizational outputs. 

Another key factor is carefully creating the TARGET - ACHIEVEMENT - ELATION - CELEBRATION cycle for all groups so that employees are positively engaged.  Helping each employee achieve personal success in company platforms is a very constructive approach for improving employee productivity.

It takes many factors, to boost employee productivity, of which, the two vital inputs for employee productivity (at every level) are TRAINING AND MIS.

Thanks for reading this blogpost, please recommend this blog to your acquaintances.    

Friday, July 27, 2012


The above is the shocking image of a cigarette pack gifted to my neighbour from another acquaintance who had been on a tour to Malaysia and Thailand.  The recipient of the imported cigarette gift pack was so numbstruck with the image on the cover of the pack - that he did not smoke a single cigarette!  That is an example of high impact CLARITY!

A picture speaks thousand words!

We are now in a picture or image led world.  Facebook is less about words and more about pictures, tagged along with pertinent words.  To ensure clarity is the core of marketing messaging.  To create crystal clear clarity use of appropriate images and words makes the difference.  Spotting this trend Laura Ries has successfully marketed the concept of incorporating VISUAL HAMMERS or a visual hammer to reinforce messages.  A visual hammer is key to clear brand messaging.


Clarity is the bedrock of achievement.  Clarity is knowing what to do next.  Many a times, marketers or sales personnel, have confusion - not clarity, leading to unclear activities.  And the net result is that a suitable destination is not reached.  The fountainhead of clarity is the learning attitude and knowledge.

If a person wants to establish an enterprise, funds alone are not the enough, clarity on the method of administration of funds to obtain desired results is the key factor.  And clarity comes from  team knowledge and individual wisdom.

Training and clarity

Seniors are involved in formal or informal training activities.  The behaviour of a senior manager is followed by the impressionable juniors - this modeling creates new learnings in the juniors, this too is an aspect of training although it is not formal training. 

In all forms of training activities, the net result is clarity in the learners.  The attendees should get confidence that comes through clarity in the learner.  A simple aspect is knowing how to use a visual aid for effective detailing and in-clinic activity, it is also knowing the product profile in a nutshell so that talking points can be rendered with conviction to enable the recipient of the message prescribe the promoted product.

The ability of a trainer or manager to generate clarity among subordinates or colleagues is the hallmark of successful managership.  Clarity comes through knowledge and communication (through writing, audio, conversations, lectures, use of multimedia including graphics etc) - and presented in such a way that the message is understandable, which requires empathy.

Clarity makes things happen!  When there is clarity, there is automatic action in the intended direction.  Thus, results are generated in line with expectancies.  In today's information society, the challenge is to use information and make a sense of it all, to create clarity for furthering confidence and action.

Thanks for reading this blog DEDICATED TO THE CONCEPT OF CLARITY for success, kindly do read all other blogposts, please click on older posts, recommend this blog to your acquaintances!     

Sunday, July 22, 2012


The market need not be a physical structure.  The market is the description of any state where an exchange is involved.  Exchanges take place to satisfy needs, wants, desires and requirements.  Marketers stimulate demand by enhancing exchange processes.  In pharmaceutical marketing, the no. & quality of prescriptions, patient compliance and retail availability are critical factors influencing the exchange process of the pharma market.

Markets are also inevitably global today, thanks to the all pervasive media.  During my childhood, events in places like Syria or Egypt had that "far-off feeling" - there was not much connect to such global events.  The world has shrunk now.  Products are crossing geographies to meet the desires of a global community.

The collapse of information divide is yet another feature of the information society.  Gaining access to information was a challenge, years back, today, knowing what to do with the deluge of information is the challenge area.

The above points have a major impact on healthcare and pharmaceutical marketers.

For instance, Singapore is a gateway market, although it has only about 52 lakhs population, there is a 1.1. crore annual floating population from all parts of the world.  An interesting feature of the Singapore market is that entry barriers are lesser for entry of healthcare food supplements (nutraceuticals or dietary supplements) compared to entry of drugs.

In Singapore, the Health Science Authority of its Ministry of Health is the national regulator for health products.

The current situation of the healthcare supplements market in Singapore is summarized below:

qHealth supplements can be imported and sold without a license from HSA

qHealth supplements not subjected to pre-market approval by HSA

qDealers of health supplements are advised to comply with the guidelines for health supplements set out by HAS

qOnus of responsibility in ensuring the safety and quality of health supplements, and compliance with the guidelines for health supplements rests with the dealer

A body called Health Supplements Industry Association Singapore ( helps liase with the Govt. of Singapore to deal with issues of marketing health supplements in Singapore.  Health supplements in English packs are marketed.  Exposure to markets such as Singapore will help health supplements gain a global toehold.  Singapore is a sophisticated market, success in Singapore will help health supplements spring to other country markets!

The expanding population, knowledge feeding curious minds, and creating new desires and wants, are all interesting market drivers, which marketers take a note off.  The decreased physical activity of people in modern society is creating new markets for cardiometabolic disorders, obesity, low glycemic index products, and those that will help improve body mass index.  People want to live better and protect themselves from ill health, this need is driving hordes of health supplement marketers to provide trustworthy products for this segment.

Marketing as a game of differentiation.  With production systems expanding, value delivery is challenging process for marketers.  Marketing verily has now become a game of differentiation.  One has to make the product different from the crowd, a me-too brand cannot command high margins, the perceived value needs to be higher to command brand equity.  Brand ambassadors will help, but differentiation needs to come in a compelling manner.

Differentiation can come from the composition of ingredients in a healthcare or pharmaceutical formulation.  It can also come from the packaging and labelling, the way the product is presented to prospects and customers.  PET bottles, Tetra Pak aseptic packaging concepts, Alu-alu packs, calendar packs, tin packs ... these differentiators tell a story to target audiences, and hopefully the differentiation edge will be competitive and compelling for the customer to see it as a feasible solution to his problem.

Mobile, internet, social networking sites (mainly facebook) and e-mail have significantly impacted marketing messaging and influencing consumption patterns.  Besides the doctor, the internet is also a problem solving medium for niche segments of end-customers (whose nos. run in crores), they are looking to internet for information gathering and obtaining the wisdom of crowds for decision making.  This is influencing adoption of new and old products.

The market is a state of exchanges, happening in pharmacies, doctor chambers and internet sites.  The market is a continuously evolving place with new trends happening, always on shifting sands.  Macroeconomic indicators and factors like a good monsoon - all influence consumption patterns in the market (where exchanges take place).  A company is of the market, for the market and by the market.  Thanks for reading this blog, please recommend this blog to your acquaintances, scroll down and click on older posts, for reading all other posts!  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The development mantra

E-mamta is an exciting project of Govt. of Gujarat that is impacting mother and child health services positively.  The fact that developmental approaches are popular and striking a positive note in society is an indication to marketers on the way ahead to approach marketing problems and solve them.

The universal core of marketing problem is about increasing consumption in an ethical or responsible way.  In pharmaceutical industry it is about increasing the consumption of healthcare products.  An important avenue is by generating prescriptions in favour of the promoted generics/brands.  So how can we adopt a developmental approach to solving such marketing problems?

The development mantra!

Improvement of one's lot and positive developments in one's society is a strong desire among the laity today.  There was a time where a safe status quo was desirable by many, the need was for stability and certainty, very great developments was not the need, only stability was the need. 

However, the picture is different today, along with certainty the contemporary needs in India are for development and self-recognition, the youth longs for a platform for achieving and mirroring one's achievement.  Hence, all development oriented programs are a great hit in current society. 

Today, in the media, talent shows, or other programs that challenge status quo and seek better solutions are a great hit.

This is a major trend in society, which marketers ought to make a note of.  Today, people implementing marketing programs, for instance the field personnel (MRs, field managers etc) and the recipients of marketing messages and marketing programs desire self-development and self-recognition.  There is hunger for change in the air!

There was a time when prompt salary payments and timely reimbursements of expense statements gave a stable field force or a stable set of employees to a firm, now these are taken for granted, the youthful employees yearn to gain more, employees desire self-development and recognition, the customers also want these factors.

Development is change management

Development mindset is a different requirement from traditional mindset.  Development is constantly challenging the status quo, setting new standards, toying with paradigm shifts, creating and managing disruptive patterns, learning how to manage market disruptions and creating valuable solutions.

In the contemporary pharmaceutical market, there is a churn, with a lot of buzz on unbranded generics.  Patients and regulatory systems are seeing if it is possible to create an economical unbranded generic market.  With production sytems well in place and hypercompetitive conditions, there is scope for unbranded generics.  This will definitely stunt the growth of branded generic market, this is a new paradigm - it is not an exaggeration to call the pro-generic or unbranded market - a disruptive market force.

In Maharasthra exuberant drug regulators are preventing MRs from carrying sales stock to pharmacies (so that adjustment is not done!), non - allopaths are being prevented from prescribing allopathic drugs ... well, all these flash in the pan moves will die down.  Because societal and marketing realities are different!

Change means constant learning

It is said, minds are like parachutes, they work only when it is open!  If change has to happen -learning new forms of work, or new procedures and approaches is required,  and if learning has to take place there should be zeal for the same, it cannot come when the mindset is closed and refuses to look at things in a non-judgmental way.  Open minds are necessarily non-judgmental, if minds are judgmental, learning is difficult and change management is challenging.

How to inculcate change management?

To engineer changes, organizational flexibility is required.  Control of information by power mongers should go, disruptions should start in the internal environment!  It is not a prescription for organizational anarchy, it is about creating ferment and bombarding information or knowledge at organizational members, it is about creating a knowledge immersive environ.  Change can come only when there is knowledge energy going around.

Doing the same things won't do!

Responding to changes in the environment is normally by harping on the current approaches to a greater extent.  If gifting works, then go on increasing gifts to get better outputs!  Yes, the time-tested approaches are vital and will deliver, however, survival and growth of organization will not depend on this, it depends on weaving new strands of strategies, which will create a cachet and differentiate the value offering and thus promote top-of-mind-recall!

The marketing code is getting disrupted!

The greatest challenge to marketers today, is that the marketing code is getting disrupted!  Dept., of Pharmaceuticals wants a value based marketing approach so patients are not fleeced by the doctor-medical testing lab-pharmaceutical industry axis!  To a certain extent strict implementation of the marketing code will create some change - but the major change cannot happen, unless something more disruptive and in favour of patients is done ...

... a change in the Drugs and Magic Remedies Objectionable Advertisements Act is required!

The above out-dated act prevents "prescription only drugs" from being advertised to potential purchasers (currently advertisements targeting prescribers through medical journals is possible!).

This is the crux of the problem, bold thinking and regulatory changes are required, so that the layman atleast gets to know the brand names of the same generic drug.  Advertisements of brand names and generic should be allowed, without informing the usage or indications.  This way the purchaser can get empowered through the messages, and can ask the pharmacist to provide alternative options for a prescription drug.  This will also prevent the pharmacist from 'pushing a brand' which provides better margins to him, making the patient a sucker!

The conundrum here is that the layman is totally in the dark, the patient is hostage to the doctor-medical lab-pharmaceutical firm axis, so now is the ripe time to create disruptions and break that axis, in any case this axis is now aweary!! 

Top pharma firms are themselves tired of the unethical practices of marketing!!!  Unethical pharma marketing is now a millstone round the neck of each pharma marketer, and a disruptive force that will weaken the doctor-medical lab-pharma marketer axis will be a welcome change (for pharma marketers also)!!

Moralizing has limitations, change can come from overcoming inertia of status quo, this will require adopting the development mantra.  Mr. Narendra Modi, the development oriented CM of Gujarat is able to tide all criticisms and politico-legal problems only through his adherence to the development mantra!  A developmental approach to solve marketing problems or other organizational challenges is the need of the hour.

Hope positive developments will take the medical profession and pharmaceutical market to greater heights, with societal benefit, ethics and 'profit surges' going hand in hand.  Thanks for reading this blogpost, please recommend this blog to your acquaintances, scroll down & click on older posts wherever required to read all other posts.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

To brand or not to brand!?

Value delivery considered the core of marketing to stimulate consumption and improve market penetration, depends on the delivery of attractive, relevant, creative, persuasive, informative and timely messages.  Communication or messaging in pharmaceutical marketing is a challenging dimension.  The media of marketing messages remain print inputs, non-print inputs (like videos) and gifts or compliments that provide the interface for messaging.  When  a medical representative is involved in messaging there is an audio visual impact, the personal touch, and relationship building. All this translates into value delivery for improved sales outcomes.

Environmental developments have an impact on the process of marketing.  There is a discussion today in contemporary Indian society, on branded generics and unbranded generics - some patients are wondering why doctors are not recommending unbranded generics.  In India, right from pre-independence days, the culture of prescribing by doctors and product promotion by pharma companies has been in favour of branded generics.  The concept of unbranded generics has never taken off, simply because brands are a covenant of trust, brands are a symbol of reliability, and generate confidence, hence, doctors and patients alike prefer branded generics and unbranded generics.

The controversy is that pharmaceutical marketing processes of branded generics has created greater cost and has increased the MRP of medicines for patients.  Brands are commanding a premium compared to unbranded generics.  This is understandable.  It is however, market driven and patient (or purchaser) psychology based issue.  There are no easy solutions to this conundrum.  Pharma brands prescribed by doctors, has in fact helped improve market penetration and availability of drugs.  Since pharma brands have better profit margins than unbranded drugs, the surplus (or profits) has been reinvested by pharma entrepreneurs to launch newer brands and invest on marketing systems (including recruiting new MRs) to promote the drugs to newer doctors in newer territories.  It is this competitive situation that has helped market penetration.  If it was not for competition and pharma branding concepts, pharma companies would not have been motivated to expand to new territories for promoting products, and to promote products in new territories or launch new pharma brands, one requires monies, this comes from profits, which is through 'pharma brand' marketing.

Hence, pharma brands have not created problems in the pharma market, they in fact have helped many pharma companies to gain financial and marketing muscle, this bounty of profits has attracted many many pharma entrepreneurs, and the net result is that pharma products are available in plenty in India.

Imagine you have unbranded iodised salt and Tata iodised salt, any purchaser, would go in for the branded Tata salt, if he can afford it and not for the unbranded iodised salt packet.  This is because branded pharma products have a picture of reliability and win the confidence of buyers, prescribers and prospects.

The long and short of this matter, is that pharma brands are not an immoral part of the pharma industry, in fact, they are the pillars of growth of pharma industry.  If the unbranded generics market has to grow in India, it is not only competitive market forces which will make it happen, but it is also incumbent on the Govt., to provide unbranded options for patients.  This sort of scenario will further impel pharma marketers to offer quality corporate branded - pharma generic products (eg., Merck generics: Merck Paracetamol; Cipla Ibuprofen, Micro Metformin, Juggat Atenolol etc).  ONE CANNOT GET AWAY FROM BRANDING!  Even if the unbranded generic market is given incentives or encouragement to grow, corporate branding will start to happen - eg., in the chip industry, INTEL INSIDE is a famous branding example in a commodity based market.  Branding is what a marketer will inevitably do to secure his market interests.

There was a time when chakki atta was always an unbranded industry, however, with economic liberalization, branded attas have started becoming a part of the market.  When this sort of a branding phenomenon has become commonplace in commodity sector, and branded offerings becoming the norm to provide differentiation and create loyal customer pools, can pharma brands, which have been there ever since the pharma industry was born in India, be wished away?!!

Branding in pharmaceutical industry will take a new avatar if unbranded generics are encouraged by the Govt.  Corporate branding of unbranded generics will start to happen.

Raymonds is the premium clothes maker, the brand name gives the product its value, one cannot argue that unbranded clothes will be cheaper hence, unbranded clothes are more moral!  Unbranded markets and branded markets will always be there and they will co-exist.  Choice will be that of buyers.

The distinction between clothes and medicines is that the prospective buyer of clothes is the recipient of advertising messages, the people marketing medicines however, spend all marketing energies and communication towards the doctor, who does not consume the medicines, he only recommends them.  Hence, the format of pharma product communication creates a foundation for "hand-in-glove" relationships between pharma marketer and doctor.  

The Govt., if at all, should find ways and means to ensure that the patient too is brought into the circle of communication.  Why should a patient blindly buy what the doctor recommends, what are patient rights?  Why can't the patient exercise brand options or even discuss with a doctor for some other drug options?  Patient empowerment is the new thrust area that regulators and healthcare marketers need to focus on.

We live in a wired world, the internet and various other communication media have caused the collapse of  information float, today, people have good means to solve problems through information search, and problem solving is sophisticated and easier.

Marketers are essentially successful if they help in this problem solving behaviour of doctors and patients.  If marketers start to use various modern communication tools to participate in problem solving processes of doctors and patients, it will take marketing messaging to new highs and create a new way of delivering value for improved sales outcomes.

Brands are and were a part of the solution to various problems associated with assurance of quality, creating confidence in prescribers, patients and purchasers, and providing reliability in a health sensitive sector.  A bad drug can destroy the life of a patient, hence, doctors and others want reliability, which happens through quality and branding.  Brands are covenants of trust.

Branding cannot be wished away, simply  because brands are a part of the solution in problem solving by doctors, patients and purchasers.

So if the idea is that by promoting the sale of unbranded drugs, MRP can be reduced and access to medicines achieved to promote patient welfare, then the solution is not complete, it goes against human psychology which wants certainty and reliability.

If unbranded product generics should click, branding should come from elsewhere, eg., it can be from a branded retail chain which sells a bouquet of cheaper unbranded drugs (eg., TRUST GENERICS from Trust medical stores of Bangalore or Medplus generics etc), or from a corporate umbrella brand which sells a series of unbranded drugs (eg., Micro generics, or Juggat generics etc).

Like it or hate it, in today's contemporary society and market conditions, branding is a necessity, only the choice of the form of branding has to be decided, eg., it can be umbrella corporate branding or product branding or other types of branding!  The answer to the question, to brand or not to brand is very clear, in fact, there is no choice, you have to brand!!  Brands deliver value to prescribers, intermediaries, manufacturers, purchasers and end users!

Thanks for reading this write-up on branding and its inevitability, please scroll down and read all other articles, please click on older posts as and when required, also recommend this blog to your acquaintances!! 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

From me-too to a competitive edge


Indian pharma industry has gone through interesting phases: there was a time when production made the difference, one had to have a production unit, this provided the best means to be in pharma business!  Pharma India was characterized by a me-too approach - if someone launches diclofenac, so will I, if entering into neuro is the trend, then I will go along with this trend.  However, today it is the era of competitive advantage, which comes through different techniques, use of marketing-CRM technique is a competitive edge (Mankind, Eris etc), providing low cost pharma products by companies such as Unison and the multitude of PCD (propaganda come distribution) ... this too is another competitive edge.

The best competitive edge comes from PRODUCT INNOVATION - doing something new or novel, which adds new value and endears to customers.  This approach provides an enduring competitive edge.  Sitagliptin a new molecule is scorching the pharma anti-diabetic market.  New packaging innovation based products such as TETRA PAK RANGE BASED ELECTROLYTE ENERGY DRINKS for management of debility due to fevers, sweating, heat stress, dehydration and exertion are also creating a new high in the prescription based market.

Today, in the fast growing pharma market with challenging marketing clutter, the advantage lies with offering differentiated products or services with a competitive edge.   Michael Porter, the management guru, has always emphasized offering the competitive edge

In the current context of intense competition, the very purpose of a business enterprise is to have a relevant perceived competitive edge.  Those firms on the path of fine tuning and constantly developing a competitive edge rather than working on a me-too path is the new paradigm.

The media too has played a role in addressing issues and pollinating information across society.  Pharma marketing practices of customer relationship management (gifting, wining, dining and sponsoring freebies, including vacations) are all over the media.  The distinction between branded generics and generic-generics is news and media trend, today's (27.5.2012) Satya  Meva Jayate was a fantastic episode mirroring the goings-on in the medical sector.  The overall wave of encouraging tranparency will inevitably lead to increased emphasis of ethics in medical practice and pharmaceutical marketing.  It will not happen overnight, it will slowly get traction.

With pharma marketing competition getting more and more fierce, ethical - well then, working on a platform of creating an authentic and smart competitive edge is inevitable.  Michael Porter is becoming relevant.

Thanks for reading the above insight, please scroll down, click on older posts as and when required, and do read all other posts, kindly recommend this blog to others.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Communicating value and Value Engineering

It is images and benefits that are bought by the customer - not the product per se!   The image that Thums Up (the cola drink) creates: is of a refreshing, "feel-good" and energising drink - the benefit is the sweet & activating taste of a heavy carbonated drink ... This is the IMAGE + BENEFIT combo which impels purchasers to go for Thums Up!

The process of marketing is value delivery, based on image building and benefit transfer, Thus, in today's context, even though the Govt. may like to have plain unbranded generics in the market, messaging value is of paramount importance.  Given the price control regime for pharmaceuticals and the simultaneous importance of value delivery in the market, today, value engineering is becoming significant in corporate planning and activities. 

VE or value engineeering involves crossfunctional teams that analyse the product offerings and the process (raw material to shopfloor to market) thoroughly, in a continuous manner, to constantly cut costs and at the same time improve the value offerings (a simple thing would be to promote high margin products or have same size bottles for various liquid products to help lower inventory or going in for PET bottles for reducing breakages, decreasing freight weight and at the same time improving product appeal to the patient (the bottle will not break if it accidentally falls down in the patient's house ...)).

Value offered by a product includes:

a) Use value: the functional value eg., paracetamol is an analgesic and antipyretic.  This can also include aesthetic aspects, for example a good flavour for a paediatric liquid formulation will improve, use value of the brand.

b) Esteem value: prescribers are motivated to be associated with the brand persona, for instance, Calpol is the No. 1 paracetamol brand, due to its quality image and its consistent promotion in the prescription market.  On the other hand, Crocin has become an OTC (over-the-counter) brand and lacks the prescription support - so vital for pharmaceuticals, hence, Crocin does not have as much esteem value for a prescriber as Calpol, since Calpol is a prescriber's brand and Crocin is an OTC brand.  In fact, every prescription for products like Calpol and Dart are important: each prescription has the potential to create a new OTC customer

Another example: there are doctors who would like to be associated with MNCs and Indian companies with a superior image.  It is the esteem value of corporate brand image that drives this interest among doctors.

c) Cost value: refers to the cost of all entities that are required to make the product available for consumption.  This includes labour, electricity, packaging, product promotion, distribution etc.  A thorough analysis of cost helps control cost parameters and add to the profit margin.  The cost value can also be the cost of the product as perceived by the customer.

d) Exchange value: refers to the attributes of the product which helps exchange the product to something else of value, desired by the person.  Thus, if a doctor desires the value of patient confidence in him/her,  then he/she will prescribe a product which will provide this exchange value!

PMT (Product Management and Training) personnel are always on the hunt for communicating or messaging  a novel and exciting value of their product (s) to their prospects or customers.  Messaging the value of product offerings is a challenging task.

The message should attract attention (A), create interest (I), promote desire (D) in prescribers to prescribe and ensure the action, ie., the doctor should prescribe (A is for action).  This is the AIDA value of the message, which is an important stimulus for demand creation (through prescriptions or retail purchase or purchases by patients).

The UECE value framework (ie., Use value, Esteem value, Cost value and Exchange value) of a product can help PMT personnel to fashion suitable messages and promote market demand.  One can analyse the product from the above value framework and create attractive messages that ensure brand registration, brand recall and brand prescribing/purchase habit.

For instance here is a cursory analysis of Dart:

Use value of Dart: analgesic antipyretic tablets, relieves pain and fever, improves performance (through caffeine, reduces morbidity).

Esteem value of Dart: The brand trusted for decades, by generations, prescribed by a wide circle of doctors (of all specialties including ophthos, ENT, and OBG segment besides GPs), sells one tablet every second ...

Cost value of Dart: Offers the power of three drugs, synergistic activity at a low rate, another approach would be: cross-functional teams can also analyse if costs can be cut and value improved through value engineering efforts (this is also in the ambit of cost value).

Exchange value of Dart: The power brand that creates patient satisfaction and patient loyalty ...

We live in an age of message overload ... doctors are bombarded by pharma messages: 'please prescribe me' yells every other brand in the pharma brand sphere.  The value analyis method will help create logical messages that appeal to the target segment (doctors, retailers, and end consumers) to improve the PERCEIVED VALUE of product/brand.  Ultimately it is images and benefits that build bonds and trust relationships in the market - and this makes the sale!

Today, NGOs, Govt. bodies and the society as a whole, are all striving to decrease MRP of pharma brands, retailers are lobbying for unbranded generics (which will serve their agenda), which the retailers hope will also reduce MRP of pharma brands - all these happenings will finally cause strain on manufacturers.  Hence, this situation is giving rise to the importance of value engineering across the pharma firmament and marketers will also have to resort to creative messaging of brand values to prospects and customers.

Thanks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down read all other posts, click on older posts as and when required, kindly recommend this blog to your acquaintances.

Monday, April 30, 2012

An interesting new sales promotion in the market

The above is a picture of Daily Bread's Healthy Whole Wheat  Bread - Daily Bread is a premium bakery chain of Bangalore.  The pleasant surprise to the bread buyer was a free 35 g pack of Strawberry oats from Britannia (worth Rs. 10/- along with the whole wheat bread). 

What was interesting and very appealing is the intelligent bundling in this offer: whole wheat bread is obviously purchased only by the health conscious and oats has its irresistible allure as a healthy food.  Any whole wheat bread buyer will be charmed by the offer and will be amenable to buying the oats brand from Britannia later on when he or she considers.

Potential danger!

Now the moot question is will Daily Bread Whole Wheat Bread users switch over atleast partially from Whole Wheat Bread to Brittania oats?  It is an interesting market study subject.  Probably some students of marketing should take a survey of regular whole wheat bread buyers from Daily Bread and measure the qualitative and quantitative impact of this interesting (whole wheat bread + Britannia oats) sales promotion offer.

There are bright chances of Britannia oats cannibalizing atleast partially the market of Whole Wheat Daily Bread since they are both positioned for the healthy snack time or breakfast time.

Take my case itself: if I like Britannia oats (I am yet to try the free packet), I will probably substitute the whole wheat bread, with Britannia brand of oats - atleast partially -  for some variety in my snacking or breakfasting - and thus reducing my consumption of whole wheat bread.

So is this a win-win sales promotional offer?

My final analysis as a marketer is that this sales promotional offer is more in favour of Britannia and less in favour of Daily Bread. 

However, one needs to validate this with questionnaire based study, collect primary data and may be apply statistical processing (apply null hypothesis, and see if my hypothesis is statistically significant or not).


Marketing approaches are best analyzed using the Edward de Bono six thinking hat technique: see the situation from creative angle (green cap), emotional angle (red cap), facts and figures point of view (white cap), positive thinking (yellow cap) and finally, negative angle (black cap).  After a discussion and thorough analysis the suitable marketing approach has to be adopted.

Daily Bread oats!!

Perhaps if Daily Bread had offered their brand of oats free along with their brand of whole wheat bread, it would have made a whole lot of marketing sense to Daily Bread.

Any way I will be looking as a keen marketing student to various marketing conversations and media reports on this Britannia + Daily Bread (Whole Wheat Bread) sales promotional offer.  As a consumer, I am happy with this bundled offer!!  Thanks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down and read all other blogposts, click on older posts wherever required, kindly recommend this blog to your acquaintances.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Motivation, a process

The above is the picture is of Jack Canfield described as America's No. 1 Success Coach!  He is a motivational speaker and author of 'Chicken soup for the soul' series of books.

If one asks, what is a managerial working?  The answers are, typically:
  • Planning
  • Organizing
  • Staffing
  • Controlling
  • Leading
  • Development of people
  • Measuring
  • Integrating
However, there is one theme underlying all of managerial or any other organizational work - it is the management of MOTIVATION.  In all pharma companies, strategic, planning and operational working depends on the underlying and taken-for-granted aspect: motivation.  In fact, the person most successful in pharma marketing and management is the one who can motivate himself and others to work towards preset objectives.

Motivation is the desire to do things.  It refers to a process that supports, elicits, and controls certain required behaviours.  Thus, if the target behaviour is to have a MR (Medical Representative), go out everyday with a planned bag and implement the marketing programs such as meeting 10 doctors and performing planned in-clinic activity, then there should be a process which supports, elicits and controls this MR behaviour.

The process of motivation depends on intrinsic and extrinsic factors.  Those factors internal to the person are intrinsic factors.  For instance, the inner drive in a Product Manager to understand the triggers responsible for sales of his product, is an intrinsic factor.  This inner intrinsic factor motivates the Product Manager to go out to the field, meet doctors, talk to MRs, train MRs or other field personnel and further it helps the Product Manager chalk out specific demand boosting strategies, promotional inputs and other specific marketing programs.  Let us say, through market analysis, and working in a field, a Product Manager understands that Product A which has support in General Surgery, is not well patronized by ENT doctors.  Based on this insight, the Product Manager will chalk out ENT doctors' oriented marketing programs, to generate prescription flow and sales of Product A.  For the process of motivation to succeed the intrinsic factor should be strong.

What motivates a person?

The extrinsic factors of motivation include - money, status, relationships and network, and other creature comforts (including food, beverages etc).

The intrinsic factor - fundamentally responsible for a person's work habit or a certain way of living/working - is: 'a deep desire to defend oneself from loss and harm'.  If a MR knows that lack of involved work can cause harm to him in terms of loss of prescriptions, sales and finally his benefits, then the MR will be motivated to work with high involvement.  However, if the MR does not visualize the loss to himself, due to his demotivated workstyle, then the MR will continue to be lackadaisical.  This applies to any field manager or product manager too. 

Thus, the visualized knowledge of a certain activity to make a difference to himself or herself will motivate the individual to behave in a particular manner.  If a Product Manager is confident that his product promotional input or strategic insight or his joint field training work, will be recognized and it will make a difference to himself and to his organization, then the Product Manager will be motivated to involve in that activity.

Motivating people

The challenge for managements and managers is creating, constantly improving and making the process of MOTIVATION effective and efficient.  It should be appreciated that motivation is not a single thing, it is process.  Motivating people is a process involving many elements and not just the boss.

Motivating 100% target achievement

The common denominator of all motivational processes is that the individual, group, team or organization should achieve 100% of all the targets ie., sales target, production target, despatch target, profit target, brand equity target, doctor coverage target, best place to work target (for HR people) and so on.

The weakness of most motivational processes is the overreliance on one factor for achieving the desired output. 

For instance, a firm may believe MR activity is 100% responsible for sales outputs.  They will then fashion out motivational processes in those lines to ensure high MR activity.

Another firm may believe quality of MR activity is 100% responsible for sales outputs.  This firm will then have motivational processes accordingly, laying emphasis on PMT ie., product management and training.

If a firm believes PMT activity is vital, then motivational processes will focus on them too.

Yet another pharma firm may focus on CME and mailer activity, which they believe is really responsible for motivating prescribers and hence they will have motivational processes in the firm on those lines - this is specially true of super-specialty product divisions.

Ultimately motivational processes in the organization depend on business model, product type and range, general market conditions and requirements, values, understandings, goals, beliefs, culture and philosophy of the organization.  If a firm believes that finally it is knowledge that drives success for the firm, then the motivational processes in the firm will be to acquire, disseminate and practice knowledge so that the firm achieves its objectives.

Auditing motivational processes in the organization

It may appear funny or ironic - but many firms will not have a clear idea of the motivational processes in the firm.  The granting of an annual increment is the main motivational process to most firms!  However, motivation is a complex subject.  Producing desired work behaviours will not be possible only through annual increments.  Creating motivational processes is more subtle, it involves intangibles, creating feel-good factors, work enrichment, providing positive reinforcers and rewards on a continuous basis, training, morale boosting programs and other concepts. 

The rise of Mankind Pharma, now the trailblazing growth of Eris Lifesciences, the resurgence of Astra Zeneca, the impact of Aprica Pharma, Corona Pharma/Remedie and the like in various pockets of Indian pharma market has got more to it than just operational planning, strategic focus, and overall planning and execution. 

These firms have actually hit the right button of MOTIVATIONAL PROCESSES which is encouraging desirable behaviours in their employees and external customers (doctors, chemists, and stockists). 

In today's pharma market conditions, the time is ripe for pharma firms to map, collect data, gain insights, audit, analyze and understand the MOTIVATIONAL PROCESSES in the organization for internal employees and external customers (and associates).  The need is now for a comprehensive picture of status and structure of motivational processes operating in the firm.  Then the next step is to improve the motivational processes of the firm - as a continuous thing. 

Improving the motivational processes is a delicate, intensive and intricate task which will involve changing layouts, language used, cultural symbols, reward systems and so on.

Ultimately (1) people do business with people (2) people work for people (3) people behaviour if desirable will produce productive and good results for a firm.

CONSIDERING THE STATUS AND CHALLENGES OF PHARMA FIRMS today, IT WILL NOT BE A SURPRISE IF PHARMA FIRMS CREATE A CMO (CHIEF MOTIVATION OFFICER) for the firm - a CMO who will be responsible for motivational processes and practices of the firm and will have key result areas for himself too - to show his contributions to the top management. 

End of article thoughts

In the above picture we see the photo of my father-in-law who is a landlord and practicing Indian style astrologer (at Nava gruha krupa, Gardadi, between Gurvayankere and Venoor, South Kanara district, half hour from Dharmasthala, Karnataka (Ph.: 08256 - 278050 or 9972725717, languages he knows Kannada, Marathi, Tulu, and broken English and Hindi)).  He is dedicated to his profession.  He is passionate about it.  His day starts from 6.30 am till may be 11.00 pm - there is a continuous stream of people all through the day for consulting him.  When he takes breaks for his routine activities the people wait for him patiently to come back, at the verandah, where he practices. 

Mr. A G Patwardhan (my father-in-law) provides astrological remedies to Hindus, Jains, Muslims and Christians in their style of faith.  Best of all he still, at the age of 65 years, is down to earth, no airs, and considers himself a learner and practitioner of his profession.  He does not have a fixed charge (based on their feeling, the clients voluntary give him some money, if my father-in-law feels the client has overpaid him - he stuffs some money back into the pocket of the client!).  The educated, police, bank managers, doctors, business people, illiterate, politicians, and even cheats, thieves and murderers have come to him for astrological consultation.

I was there at his place for four days in April 2012 and was fascinated by his cases and continuous practice.  I was fascinated by his self - motivation.  When I asked him why he works ceaselessly or does not have any fixed fees - he laughed and said it satisfies him to see the smile of benefit in his client's face.  He reiterated that at his age - only such intangibles motivate him.  He leads a simple life ... hence, reflecting on him I have researched and written about MOTIVATION in this blogpost.

There have been interesting cases in his astrological practice:

(1) Once, a local politician and temple trust chairman had come to him and asked him to come over to his house as he was having a lot of trouble in recent past (fires, damage to his house, illness and accidents to the house inmates).  My fil (father-in-law) started seeking answers to the problems through his 'prashna jyothisya' astrological practice.  He saw the indication that the person had gotton some gold illegally into the house.  When he enquired the person said 'no', to which my fil said sternly: 'it appears to me from this 'jyothish knowledge' you have stolen gold!'  The person panicked, took him to an inner room and confessed to have gotton a gold coin from the temple offering to the house!  Apparently this caused the problems in the house to the house inmates (there is a brahma rakshasha concept), this was finally ameliorated through my fil's advice...

(2) A couple came to him and said their two children then 16 and 15 years old were missing for a few years, so they were wondering what to do.  After the prashna jyotishya session, my fil said one would come back in a month's time and the other after two months, and he recommended some poojas in the temple.  He gave a hint that the boys were in a jail and would be released.  He asked the couple to bring the elder boy to him when he comes back. 

To the couple's surprise, the elder boy came back after a few days. Accordingly, the couple came with the elder boy to my fil.  The elder boy gave his story: apparently, some of the elders of his village who had migrated to distant cities, one of them motivated them to come along with them - and in a particular city the boys were used to rob a bank, the boys were trapped in the bank, caught by police but the elders escaped.  The boys were taken to the juvenile prison jailed and the elder boy who was released came back, the second son came back two months later.

(3) An elderly Muslim couple came with their problem: their daughter after marriage was staying with them, the son-in-law was missing for about two years, so they wanted to know what to do - should they go in for remarriage of their daugther?  After the prasna jyothishya session my fil said that the son-in-law would come back in 3 or 4 days and will reunite with the daughter.  The couple was puzzled, yet they followed some instructions as per Muslim traditions as advised by my fil.  The son-in-law came back on 4th day, apparently he had gone elsewhere to earn money, which he did and now was reunited with his wife.  They all came for a thanksgiving visit to my fil's place.

To the typically modern city bred Indian and to the westerner the above narrations may sound nonsensical.  Remember I - Sunil S Chiplunkar - am also educated and scientifically trained: I have B Pharma, M Pharma, PGDMM and PGDHRM to my credit.  I have also travelled a lot and seen many things in life.  So do not discount above writings.  There are many things of traditional knowledge, which are unknown to modern society people.  My father - in -law is also a man of stature, and his brothers are highly learned Professors etc.  My father-in-law due to necessity concentrated on agriculture and traditional knowledge.  During his youth he was known as 'Michael Jackson Patwardhan'.  A progressive farmer, my fil had the best rubber plantation and had won awards.  The reason for his success in rubber cultivation?  Well, in the sapling stage, wild pigs would attack rubber saplings and eat the bark making the rubber trees narrow and low yielding.  My fil had arranged speakers in the rubber plantation and would play Michael Jackson audio songs which would chase away the wild pigs, the result was his rubber plantation had wider and robust rubber trees!  This was reported in newspapers too in late1980s.

Anyway, coming back to the subject of motivation, it is no doubt that motivational practices and processes are making the difference for organizational results.  The concept of motivational processes need to be taken more seriously and comprehensively for a competitive edge, rather than as knee jerk reaction (Oh! Sales are poor - well, increase incentives and bonus offers to the trade and offer costlier gifts to doctors, this will motivate field people, doctors and chemist retailers - so we will get improved sales).  Motivational processes need to be well thought out, comprehensive, proactive and should cover employees and customers: organizational results are tied to motivational processes and practices of the firm.

Thanks for patiently reading this longish blogpost, best of luck, please recommend this blog to your acquaintances, and scroll down, click on older posts wherever required for reading all other posts.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Organizational effectiveness

E Sreedharan: the brand persona for ORGANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS

The above man known for his no-nonsense leadership style has achieved remarkable organizational feats: establishing and creating new milestones (he has planned and executed the Metro concept in India, Konkan Railway ...). E Sreedharan is the personification of organizational effectiveness concept and leadership.

Picture 1 seen above shows a ship in distress - the rough seas are tossing the ship and giving the sailors a tough time.

In below Picture 2, we see a ship in placid waters, the crew are having a routine and a relatively comfortable time compared to above picture.

The entire premise of work life (and for that matter, family life) depends on two words: EFFECTIVENESS AND EFFICIENCY. We need to be effective with the mandate given to us by the management, and we need to be efficient too. On these two words depends the entire output of our work life.

This is also true with reference to the organization. At the organizational level too, the watch words are effectiveness and efficiency. The outputs created by the organization should be in line with investor, management, customer and other stakeholder expectations.

What does organizational effectiveness depend on?

An organization is a group of people with common objectives. The organization is characterized by systems and sub-systems. Thus, an organization's effectiveness depends on individual effectiveness and system/sub-system efficacy. Effectiveness is the degree to which problems are solved or objectives achieved. Thus, organizational effectiveness is high if the degree to which it achieves objectives is high. If an organization through thorough analysis of its financial muscle, marketing prowess, production and manufacturing capability etc, assigns a certain sales figure as its objective, then the degree to which it achieves this target is a measure of organizational effectiveness. The mission, objectives, or goals of an organization are not necessarily in terms of sales outcomes - there are profit objectives, brand equity goals, employee stability goals, geographical expansion targets, manpower expansion objectives, customer service and market coverage objectives, and other key result areas. Once the objectives are established the effectiveness of an organization refers to how much (and to what extent) of the objectives it has achieved (or the percentage of achievement).

Managers, other employees and organizational strategies are deployed so that the firm or organization can achieve high effectiveness. If a product is not of predetermined quality, then the quality systems and personnel are not effective, if the marketing goals are not met, then the marketing personnel are not of expected effectiveness ... Thus, the management and HR challenge is to create conditions that produce effectiveness in line with top management and organizational expectations.

The toughest thing for firms is to establish objectives and a work environment that creates effective performance in the entire spread of the organization. The final bottomline in organizational management is effectiveness.


honestly it is only about the outcome or the output - that is what life is about. When a girl's father hands over his daughter to a suitable groom, what will he see? Obviously, the father will see into the boy's personality, habits, talking style, behaviour, work profile, educational qualifications, cash flow (salary and other commitments), problem solving attititude (ability to provide solutions), energy level (no father-in-law wants a lazy son-in-law!), assets, family culture, personal achievements and whether the boy will be able to afford a comfortable life for his daughter and future family. In essence, the girl's father will be impressed by the boy's future effectiveness as a householder - he will see if the boy has all the ingredients to become an effective householder. He can ill afford to have a son-in-law who will give excuses or shy away from taking responsibilities or always comes up with alibis or problems (and not practical solutions).

Thus, the name of the game in personal, family, community, social, and work life is effectiveness.
The next factor is efficiency. How fast is the employee, how accurate is the employee, and when he does work is it with minimal or negligible wastage (of time, resources etc)? However, the primacy is for individual and/or personal effectiveness. Efficient employees ought to focus on effectiveness too.

What are the factors that promote individual effectiveness?

1) The competence and other attributes of the individual - for eg., the MR's ability to detail, negotiate, keep records, do the homework, plan the calls and activities, practice, have interest, do hard work , be committed, and the tact to manage the power games of the organization to ensure his effectiveness is not diluted ...

2) The training and other back up from the organization which promotes individual effectiveness. For eg., strategic directives (in which direction should the MR put his efforts), and strategic inputs (or collaterals like leave behind literatures, small gifts, CDs etc).

3) The will of the organization and management to utilize resources (human and material) to achieve the organizational objectives (at individual and system level), the organization should ideally back its people to accomplish their tasks - it involves a will to develop and use people, marshal human and material resources to be effective at the organizational level.

4) The continuous motivational programs and processes which ensures people are on their toes and morale is high (this includes compensation packages, career development, promotions, job enrichment etc).

5) Organizational culture which promotes transparency, systems, processes and other forms of professionalism.

6) Ability of the organization to have functional conflicts and not dysfunctional conflicts (which is a result of negative power games). Political management skills are vital in managerial life, however, the final goal should be organizational effectiveness - organizational politics that cause dysfunctional conflicts can be a drag on organizational effectiveness.

While above 6 dimensions promote organizational effectiveness, there are other high level concepts like technology base of the firm, financial strength of the organization, legacy, philosophy, and management culture which have a vital influence on work effectiveness.

Finally - last but not the least - leadership makes the difference, as we see E Sreedharan is a classic example of 'value based effective leadership for organizational effectiveness'.

Now coming back to the other ship pictures - HERE ARE TWO QUESTIONS FOR THE READER TO PONDER ON:

1) When a ship is in distress, will there be maximum effectiveness to work collectively and achieve the goal of saving the ship?

2) When the ship is in placid waters, will the sailors perform effectively or will the comfortable environment create just a wee bit of slackness?

Parting snap:

The following picture is not taken in Germany, it is our own Bangalore's Namma Metro world class metro station. We rode on Namma Metro (M G Road to Byappanahally and back on 8.4.2012) (though the electronic signboard in the photo says Byappanahally the metro station is M G Road, the sign board is showing that the platform is for Byappanahally bound metro train).

From reader's left to right: My mother - Latha S Chiplunkar, Madhuprita (daughter), Rushang (son) and Manjula (wife) at M G Road Namma Metro station (8.4.2012) waiting for the Byappanahally bound Metro to arrive!

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