Power of Cooperatives

1 01 2009

Last Friday, I was at a book shop and the first book I stumbled upon was I too had a dream. I was looking for any books by/on Dr. Kurian for a long time and finally found it. I just picked up the book and began reading. Today, I completed it.I have to rate this a 5 Star. An amazing narration and very well written and compiled.

I didn’t know what to name this post. First, I wanted to name it as “Malayalee.Milk & Movie” (Read the book and I am sure that you would agree with me on the title).

Well for those of you who are wondering what this book is all about, it is the amazing story of Anand Milk Union Limited (AMUL) and journey of Dr. Verghese Kurian as India’s Milk Man.If there was anything which is a box-office and smashing hit in the Indian Cooperative Movement, it is the story of AMUL. I am definitely not going into the details of the book, but would want to highlight the key aspects of the Operation Flood.

What made me read the book non-stop is how bureaucratic our country has been in accepting the Cooperative methodology. India is a country with more than 70% of the population living in the villages. Since the independence, we have had many Government’s which came and went and also we saw a lot of development in many areas of life. In fact, I would not hesitate to say that no other country has come this far in the first 60 Years of Independence (comparing to countries which have been ruled by some other nation). However, there is a long way to go.

During the course of this book, Dr. Kurian emphasizes the importance of making farmers responsible for their produce, marketing and returns. What this simply means is giving the ownership and the Government playing the role of ensuring appropriate avenues are available. Well, to be very honest, this is the most difficult thing which any country can achieve. But, Dr. Kurian proved that with commitment and dedication we can definitely achieve this. What you need is the Will and the Belief in your dream.

I personally understood one aspect – The Primer Minister’s are people with a dream, and believe me, only people with that commitment get to the position (there are definitely exceptions too). In this book, Dr. Kurian writes about his personal interaction with almost all Prime Ministers since Jawaharlal Nehru to P V Narasimha Rao (after which Dr. Kurian retired). The key aspect is the team which surrounds this super power of our Country.

If you are an aspiring Entrepreneur/Social Entrepreneur, I highly recommend you reading this book.

Also, in this book, Dr. Kurian jumps deep into how Operation Flood, one of India’s most successful cooperative project came into existance and how long it took for them to succeed.

The Arc of Ambition

2 01 2008

3 Weeks back, I borrowed a book from my cousin – The Arc of Ambition, Defining the Leadership Journey and it took me close to three weeks to complete it. Every chapter is a must read. The authors James Champy and Nitin Nohria did a lot of research in writing this book and I think I will have to give this a 5 Star rating for all the efforts. Each example which has been illustrated is a classic by itself.

The authors begin the book by defining the arc of ambition. There are various stages in the arc from beginning the journey to giving a graceful exit:

  • See what other’s don’t
  • Follow a steadfast path
  • Seize the moment
  • Temper ambition
  • Inspire with a greater purpose
  • Never violate values
  • Keep control by giving up
  • Change or die
  • Leave gracefully

Each page is a facinating read and this is a must for every individual. These rules need not apply to only enterprises or this book is not only for people who have high horizons, but for every person in this world to evaluate themselves and live for a purpose.

I don’t have any more words to write about this read, it was really worth the time.

My next read is going to be parallel, want to finish How to change the world and take on the Elephant, the Tiger & the Cellphone by Shashi Tharoor.

Art of Innovation

9 12 2007

My last reading is The Art of Innovation, by Tom Kelley, the General Manager for IDEO, the most respect design firm in America.

This book focus’s on how IDEO creates, manages and encourages innovation within the organization.

All of us in someway or the other want to be more creative – be it in selecting our dress, making up our home or as simple as arranging dinner at the table and actually we do put in our thoughts and begin being creative. We take ideas and suggestions from people and try to come up with something better.

While I was reading the book, I wanted to make notes, to ensure that I share with readers of my blog, but now, after completing the book, I dropped the idea, because, you might loose interest in reading the book; however, I will try to memorize and pen down few lines which really make us think. I sincerely recommend anyone who wants to do different in life (either in your job or in your startup).

Business writer Gary Hamel has a prediction “Out there in some garage is an entrepreneur who’s forging a bullet with your company’s name on it. You have got one option now – to shoot first. You’ve got to out-innovate the innovators”. How true?

Each chapter and each page makes you think, and also at times, gives you the thought that silly ideas make a big difference. Among all the chapters, one made a huge difference and changed (am trying to) my thinking – Experience.

What is Experience? You must have definitely been a victim of this many a times. Companies produce products or services and this is no difference, but there are few companies which you really want to remember and there might be few products which you really want to keep using and refuse to change. There is a load of difference between the former and later. Also, there are companies which produce goods and make you come back to use them/provide you the best of experience. Does this give you a thought? This is Experience.

I will give you my live example – I have flown various airlines (at least a couple of them) till date, but there are two airlines which really make me go back to them (even though their price is a bit more than others) – Jet Airways and Singapore Airlines. What makes the difference? The treatment I get, the care they give (pre and post-flight). Coming to other similar experiences, I will have to mention about the grocery store I go every month. I still remember the first time I went, it was just a normal experience, except for the fact that this person casually asked for my name. The next time I went there after about a month, this person welcomes me “Namaste Harigaru” (Salutation in one of the local languages – Telugu) and inquires about how things are going and then proceeds to pack my list. This small gesture makes me go back to him every time even today. I now stay a bit far away from this shop, but still would prefer going to the same place every time – What an impact with just a small gesture. You do not get the same experience in the big chain shops. Yes, everything is organized and you have the liberty to pick what you want, but still, the personal touch is just not there.

All of us would want to create an experience for our clients (family, colleagues, boss, friends etc). This is what makes the real differentiation in lives.

When you create a product/service, think about the DNA of ‘Experience’, that itself makes a mark and creates an impression.

Of all the organizations, how many really care about this? Very few, in fact very few. As I write this, i was trying to recollect when did I have the worst of the experiences – Once, I was in a small temple town in Andhra Pradesh and had to stay overnight. I took a hotel which is the most lousy hotel you can ever imagine. I paid advance and moved into the room. In the morning I noticed that the wash basin does not have an outlet and the water just falls on your feet if you open the tap. I was very disappointed and went and complained. The manager refused to listen and said that it was my problem and it was not his and when i threatened him that i would vacate, he sent his attendant to bring my luggage.

If I start writing all my experiences, then it would make a huge list, but what I intend to illustrate here is the importance of “Creating the Experience”.

You will need to start thinking on just not providing a solution/service, but creating the experience for your customers and this would add loads of values.

When you pen your business plan, have a placeholder for illustrating how you would create Experience and I am sure that would help a lot.

There are many pages which gave me insights into many things – Managing creativity in an organization, office look and feel, freedom to employees etc. which all add to building a great organization. This book does not offer your solutions, but definitely adds to your thought process while you manage your home/work/business.

Believe me, this is worth a read and now, I have become a fan of Tom Kelly for the way the book is structured.