Author Archives: vivekinadmin

On Jugaad

By Ayesha Vemuri

The point you make about jugaad being responsible for killing innovation is something that I have been trying to articulate as well – the fact is that, as long we’re satisfied (and even proud) of our makeshift, barely working, hastily put together solutions, there is no demand on the providers of these products and services to actually improve. We tend to have this “sab kuch chalega” attitude about everything, including things that affect our quality of life, our safety and security, our health and well-being and happiness, and somehow we tend to not demand better and more. Why is that and how do we even begin to overcome this highly ingrained attitude?


Frameworks and Hierarchies

The response to my recent op-ed in The Hindu ( was overwhelmingly positive. But about 1% of people misread my message. This small percentage of responders thought that my op-ed was against western frameworks and theories, and that I was calling for them to be replaced by Indian ones. We are conditioned to any call for Indian ways to being seen as nationalist.

Drawing on mathematical logic–I admit I used it rather loosely–I said that western frameworks are “necessary but not sufficient.” And I was thinking here of the oft-quoted example to show the relationship between necessity and sufficiency: being a mammal is necessary but not sufficient to being human. My argument was that we need to understand that frameworks from western thinking are necessary but not sufficient for strategic success. They form one option that needs to be placed alongside Indian thinking (one another option among many others that I did not refer to–Chinese, African, whatever) so that both western and Indian frameworks become options for any strategist to choose from–options that should be level with each other, and not arranged in a hierarchy as is the case now with western theories placed much above Indian ones.

Enhance your Leadership Intelligences Through Exercise (ELITE): Communicative Intelligence Exercise 110901

Leadership intelligences are like muscles. The more you exercise them, the stronger they become.
Vivekin’s ELITE (Enhance your Leadership Intelligences Through Exercise) program provides exercises
drawn from daily life that are structured to help you develop each of the five leadership intelligences.

Watch every Monday morning for a leadership intelligence exercise that Vivekin Group selects from
its ELITE program and provides free of cost to its subscribers.
Want to get such exercises regularly? Make sure you sign up for Vivekin’s RSS feed.


The Exercise
This week’s exercise helps you work on your communicative leadership intelligence.
It involves reading a joke and then providing a response to the question that follows.

The Joke
Three men are on death row–an Italian, an American, and an Indian–and are to be executed on the same day. On the scheduled day, the prison warden comes to them and asks the Italian, “What would you like for your last meal?” The Italian says “Nothing better than a big bowl of spaghetti with meat balls rolling in rich marinara sauce!” And then turning to his friends he remarks in a sad voice, “Reminds me of my mother.” The dish is procured quickly, the Italian relishes it, and is executed. The warden then asks the American what he would like to eat. The American sighs and says, “Oh! I’d love to have a steak real rare, and a few slices of fresh risen bread.” It takes some time to cook this meal because they have to wait for the bread to rise. But after a few hours, the meal is brought to the American. He relishes it, and is executed. Now the warden turns to the Indian and says, “Brownie! What would you like to eat?” The Indian exclaims, “Oh! What would I give for a bowlful of fresh mangoes from the plains of south India!” The warden exclaims, “What? Mangoes! They’re out of season and will take at least a year to get here!” The Indian replies, “No problem! I’ll wait.”

As with most jokes, there are several versions of this joke. One version appears in
Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein’s, Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through the Pearly Gates

The Task
You now have three minutes to respond to the following question:
If you were fourth in line to be executed, what would you request for your last meal?

Provide your response through the comments box below this post. Comments will be made public late in the evening on Tuesday.

The exercise will help enhance your communicative intelligence by doing three things.

  • It will exercise your capacity for wit
  • It will enhance your ability to understand the pattern of previous responses in the joke and
  • It will exercise your intelligence in building on that pattern to provide a better response

A Funny Thing Happened In The CEO’s Office: Meg Whitman at HP

From my “A Funny Thing Happened In The CEO’s Office” Collection
“I have run a large company — not obviously as large as HP, but I have run a very large company,” she said. “While I don’t have years of experience in an enterprise business, I bought a lot of software. I was one of the largest enterprise customers in Silicon Valley.”
—Meg Whitman, Former CEO E-Bay, Incoming CEO of HP

“That’s like saying, ‘I’ve bought an iPhone, so I can run Apple Inc.’”
—Chris Whitmore, an analyst at Deutsche Bank AG.
Quotes From a Bloomberg BusinessWeek article

Micro-Leadership Before Macro

The buzz about Anna Hazare is still ringing in our ears here in monsoon-soaked Hyderabad, even after he has settled back in his village in Maharashtra. Throughout his Delhi fast—which ironically provided prime fodder for primetime TV—we saw people wearing caps that said “I am Anna.” Many friends on Facebook have a badge that says “I am Anna.”

Really? Am I Anna? Are you Anna? What does it take to be “Anna”? What does it take to be a leader?

If you want to be a leader, please emblazon this on your soul: “The first person I should lead is myself.” There is no new truth in this. Great leaders and wise men have always demonstrated it. Let me use an Indian example since the setting is Indian. About a year ago, my taxi driver in Hyderabad told me the following story about Gandhi. A woman approached Gandhi at a public meeting, and requested him to tell her grandson to not eat sugar. “Coming from you, that request will be definitely heeded by my grandson,” she said. Gandhi pondered for a moment and asked her to come back after a few weeks bringing the boy again. She came back—as asked—a few weeks later with the boy. And this time, Gandhi called the boy close and said, “Don’t eat sugar.” The boy nodded vigorously and the woman and her grandson went away. An associate asked Gandhi, “But Gandhiji, you could have told him the same thing some weeks ago. Why did you make her come back?” Gandhi replied, “I had to stop eating sugar before I could ask him to do so.”

Stories such as these permeate the fabric of Indian society. And yet, we do not make them our own. We let them float in and out of social consciousness, making no attempt to ground the stories in ourselves.

So, to come back, what do we mean when we say, “I am Anna”? It is very easy to say “That official is corrupt,” or “This politician is even more corrupt.” Have we noticed how corrupt we are? What do we do to get things moving in a government office? Are we willing to say, “Even if my file does not move, I will not pay a bribe?” Let us begin the anti-corruption campaign there. Let us first remove the corruption within ourselves.

And a closing thought: The corruption that involves money is bad, but the corruption that concerns the soul is worse. Are we handling either in our personal lives? True leadership should be rooted in the micro for it to rise to the macro.