Social Media Marketing and the Consumer – the Reality

March 8, 2016 - Leave a Response

Everyone is writing about it, all Marketing Gurus and Marketing Experts are talking about it.  Seminars, Workshops, Webinars are being conducted all the time on Social Media Marketing. Every company worth its salt has opened a FB page. It’s the in thing these days.

My experience with Social Media pages of companies throughout this year has been rather disappointing. The reality I encountered makes me wonder if any of the parties mentioned above take the whole idea of Social Media Marketing seriously.


Leading Through Empowering People

December 9, 2014 - Leave a Response

An  article in a recent issue of The Mint titled, The best book on leadership that I have read: 10 Must Reads On Leadership

Read more at:

interested me a lot.  Mr P R Sanjai, who has written this piece talked to Ms Abanti Sankaranarayanan, Managing Director of Diageo India, who made a surprise pick of this book, which she says truly inspired her.  She selected Harvard Business Review’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership, which contains 10 selected chapters on Leadership.  Written by leading thinkers like Peter Drucker, John Kotter and others.  After combing hundreds of HBR articles, the editors have compiled these ten pieces which seek to help one’s own and one’s organisation’s performance.

This book will inspire the reader to motivate others to excel, build self confidence of team members, help bring about positive change, encourage smart risk-taking,, manage with empathy, increase self-awareness and draw strength from adversity.  All important to every successful leaders.

No wonder Ms Sankaranarayanan helped her in developing her own leadership style.

The book analyses the challenges in managing people and identifying what really motivates people. It also discusses how to deal with problem employees and how one can build a team that is greater than the sum of its parts.

important to any successful leader.

No wonder

Rubber the naturally occurring wonder material

September 30, 2014 - Leave a Response

Rubber is a naturally occurring winder material.

Some historians sa Rubber has been in use since 1300 BC ! Wow that’s a long long time

Rubber was originally found in South America

But it is the invention and subsequent growth of the automobile industry that gave a fillip to the use of rubber.

Today, rubber is an important raw material in the manufacture of automotive tyres, rubber sheets, mattresses, several bushes washers and other industrial products as well as adhesives.

Today it is grown mostly in Asia.  Currently Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, China, SriLanka and Vietnam are the major Rubber growing countries As the demand for Rubber grows, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and some African countries may also become big growers.

Natural Rubber (NR) is a pure biopolymer since it obtained entry from a tropical plant.As it is an agricultural product, NR is renewable.  It is carbon neutral like all plant products.  With depleting oil reserves NR will assume greater importance.

I recently came across a rally high quality book about Natural Rubber titled: Chemistry, Manufacture, and Applications of Natural RubberDr Shinzo Khjiya who is Emeritus Professor at Kyoto University and Dr Yuko Ikeda an Associate Professor of Chemistry and Material Technology at the Kyoto Institute of Technology.  It is comprehensive book with each chapter being contributed by well known experts from around the globe.  Contributors includeDr K Cornish of Ohio State Univeristy, Dr J E Puskas of Akron Engineering Research Center, Prof P Phinyocheep of Mahidol University in Thailand, Dr a Kato of NISSAN ARC LTD., Japan, Prof T Nakao of University of Tokyo, A  B Nair & R Joseph of our own Cochin University of Science and Technology, and Prof Hashim of Universiti Kuala Lumpur.  The above name is only a partial list.

The growing demand for more sustainable materials has led to increased research on the properties of natural rubber. Chemistry, Manufacture and Applications of Natural Rubber summarizes this research and its significance for the industrial applications of natural rubber.

Chapters in part one explore the properties and processing of natural rubber, including the biosynthesis of natural rubber in different rubber-producing species, chemical modification of natural rubber for improved performance, and the effect of strain-induced crystallization on the physical properties of natural rubber. Further chapters highlight hydrophobic and hydrophilic silica-filled cross-linked natural rubber and computer simulation of network formation in natural rubber. Part two focusses on applications of natural rubber, including eco-friendly bio-composites using natural rubber matrices and reinforcements, soft bio-composites from natural rubber and marine products, natural rubber for the tire industry, the application of epoxidized natural rubber in pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs), and the use of natural rubber for vibration isolation and earthquake protection of structures. Finally, chapters in part three consider environmental and safety issues associated with natural rubber, including improving the sustainable development of natural rubber, the recycling of natural and synthetic isoprene rubbers and of sulfur cross-linked natural rubber, and recent research on natural rubber latex allergy.

Chemistry, Manufacture and Applications of Natural Rubber is a comprehensive resource for academics, chemists, chemical engineers, mechanical engineers, and other professionals in the rubber industry, as well as those industries, including automotive, civil, and medical engineering, using natural rubber products.

With growing concern for the environment, and anxiety about the depletion and possible eventual exhaustion of Petroleum, the quest for naturally occurring, renewable materials is speeding up.  In this context, the importance of natural rubber will continuously grow.

The Need for Office Kaizen

September 22, 2014 - Leave a Response

Sitting late in my office on a rainy evening last week, I was putting the final touches on a book on 5S. At the end of a long and tiring day, the steady beat of the rain on the windows and the cool wind blowing through the door acted as soporifics. Yearning for a cuppa of something hot, I pushed my laptop aside to get up. Some books on the other side of the table tumbled down and followed by an avalanche of loose papers. All thoughts of a refreshing drink vanished as I stooped to recover the papers and books. This set me thinking.

I looked around at the other tables in the office. Like mine they too were piled high with books, though the staff had taken care to file the papers away before leaving. Clearly my office needed to be cleaned up. But was that enough? Would mere cleaning up solve the problem?  I realised that the problem ran deeper than that.

Where would the manufacturing industry the world over have been but for the productivity improvement tools emanating from Japan? Certainly industry in India would still be locked in the self defeating cocoon of low productivity, poor quality, and thin margin trap. In the last two decades, the need to survive and grow in a competitive global environment has impelled manufacturing businesses, to adopt several methods to improve productivity and reduce defects.

What if I adopted similar tools to improve the productivity in my office? Was this just my thinking, spurred by my angst at the state of my office, or was this a universal phenomenon? Did other offices too face such problems? What about the offices of businesses that had successfully adopted productivity tools? This is when I realised that I had the answer right in front of my eyes. Namely, the book ‘Office Kaizen’, by William Lareau.

‘Office’ implies any business process and function that is not a pure ‘factory’ task, such as assembling, welding, machining, fork lift driving and so on. The word kaizen is a compound Japanese word. ‘Kai’ means ‘little’, ‘ongoing’, and ‘good’, according to William Lareau.  The word comes from the Toyota Production System. In fact it is an integral part of 5S, lean manufacturing, reengineering and what have you.

Till now kaizen has been practised on the factory floor with great success. Flexible, synchronous, pull, and other manufacturing systems, have increased factory productivity dramatically. Inventories’ have plunged and lead times shortened by factors of two to ten. Marrying a very productive manufacturing system with an old fashioned office system is like fitting a motor car engine to a bullock cart. The engine works just fine but the cart can go only at its own pace. Result, there is a significant deficit in overall performance. Every business needs a strong back up from the ‘office’ side of the enterprise to reap the full benefits of improvements in factory productivity. In fact office organisation and productivity is essential if a business wants to be world class.

According to Lareau, Office Kaizen creates office and administrative processes and work groups that generate a competitive advantage, not compromise it. The business will reap advantages from several sides. Costs will decrease as fewer errors are committed. Planning and analytics will improve, since reliable data will be available quicker. This will help the business organise its entire production schedule better.

For businesses eager to improve their overall performance, ‘Office Kaizen’ provides the foundation for the next great step-wise competitive advantage.

The Power of A3

September 22, 2014 - Leave a Response

People throughout Toyota are taught PDCA (Plan, Do, Check Act) as a tool for problem solving and continuous improvement. Toyota learnt it years ago from W Edwards Deming. It has no become engrained in the corporate future of Toyota. A3 is a way to report the results of PDCA. It is now being called A# report. The A# is an 11 x 17 inch piece of paper. Hence the nae A3. The A3 management process is the core of the famed Toyota Production System, the precursor to Lean Management. The A3 Management system creates an uncompromising process and a mindset dedicated to continuous improvement by a rigorous deployment of PDCA.
A3 demands tremendous amount of discipline . It is a very powerful weapon in the armoury of Toyota. It is a secret of Toyota Diligent application of A3 dramatically improves the performance of the company and the morale of the people.

We have three important books on A3:
MANAGING TO LEARN: Using the A3 management process to solve problems, gain agreement, mentor and lead by John Shook
UNDERSTANDING A3 THINKING: A critial component of Toyotas PDCA Management System by Durward Sobek II & Art Smalley


GETTING THE RIGHT THINGS DONE : A leader’s guide to planning & execution by Pascal Dennis
Our award wining book, DAILY MANAGEMENT THE TQM WAY by Yukihiro Ando and Pankaj Kumar explains PDCA and rotating the PDCA and managing it.

Showing The Path

October 2, 2013 - Leave a Response

Whether life-saving or taken just to cure a headache, drugs have a critical role to play. And that is why the pharmaceutical business is governed by several regulations and quality specifications.

Three recent news items though makes one wonder where and how the breach occurred. An Indian plant of a leading global pharma company, where injectables and solid dosages are manufactured, was issued a notice for not meeting quality standards.

In another plant of the same company manufacturing heart pills, there was evidence of urine spilling over open drains, soiled uniforms and mold growing in a raw-material storage area.

Another Indian manufacturing arm of an international pharma company has also been asked to stop imports due to multiple violations at the factory.

According to Dr. Shridhar Lolla, a business coach, the nature of most of the issues being highlighted is related more to management systems than technical quality. There is a high degree of distrust and also negligence in following simple norms.

“Assuming that people are good, if people are forced to over work in a situation that reduces their span of attention,mistakes like supply of wrong medicines, broken tablets, untested medicines etc. do occur.

But outside pharma industry such problems have been solved to an extent by Six Sigma (i.e. less than 4 defects per million opportunities).”

At least one thing pharma companies can do is to reduce the pressure on their staff in mindlessly chasing higher throughput as if there is not another day left to make money. This can be ensured only if the plants do not create traffic jam type of situation in their shop floors by following the good practices of operational management.

He tackles just such issues in his book ‘The Path’ (Published by Productivity & Quality Publishing Pvt Ltd) and suggests a way out. This book is for all those who put quality and customers before everything else.


Perfect Gift for the Festive Season

October 1, 2013 - Leave a Response
My Greetings of the festive season:
The purpose of giving these gifts is to share our joy and happiness, to share our goodwill, to say thank you, and most importantly to remember us by.
After all, isn’t the idea of gifting to firmly remind the receiver of the giver ?  Flowers, Dry fruit and sweet last at best two days, A diary or a calendar lasts for just one year.  Even electronic products like clocks and watches have a definite life time.
Have you thought for a moment how long these gifts will last and remind the recipient of the giver?
But a book lasts forever.  When you gift a book, you are gifting a whole package of ideas and knowledge which will enable the recipient to grow and prosper and be a happier person.  So a book makes an ideal gift.  With a message from you, preferable handwritten, signed and dated will make a book the perfect gift.
Over the years, I have received many books as gifts.  I have also received many other items as gifts.  There was this lovely pen someone gave me.  I liked it very uch because it felt good, wrote well.  One day it ran out of ink and I couldn’t find sutable refill and that was the end of the pen.  Another time someone gifted me with a beautiful clock.  It worked for many years and finally one day it just stopped.  I took it to a watch mechnic and he said, sorry sir no spares.  This is out dated.  It has come to the end of its life !  But the various books that I got as gifts are still with me and everytime I see them, open them and read them I remember the giver and the occassion.  one venerable old getleman gifted a copy of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali and everytime I thumb through this book I remember the gentleman and in fact I relive my wedding ceremeny, at the end of which he had come up and presented us with it.
I have published several books which make great gifts.
In this first recommendation, I suggest you seriously consider The Goal written by Eli Goldratt and Jeff Cox for gifting this year.
The Goal is the first business novel and has sold nearly 8 million copies worldwide.  Eli Goldratt has been described as “Guru to Industry” by The Fortune Magazine
We bring you a special Edition of The Goal.  This has a very inspiring and moving foreword by Mr B Muthuraman, Vice Chairman of Tata Steel.  We have added one of the best pieces by Eli Goldratt titled, STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS.  

In an interview with CNBC’s Tech correspondent Jon Fortt, Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, reveals the three books his top Amazon executives read.

Read as Fortt shares his favorite part of the Bezos Interview:

But my favorite detail from the Bezos interview? This summer he spent time at Lab126, a Silicon Valley outpost about a mile from Apple headquarters where Amazon engineers hash out hardware designs. And he also hosted three all-day book clubs with Amazon’s top executives, capped by nice dinners at the end. Bezos said he used the books as frameworks for sketching out the future of the company.

Which books? Bezos was kind enough to share the titles:

The Goal continues to be one of the most widely used and recommended business books of all times, as reported by Time Magazine, Slate Magazine and more. It has sold more than 3 million copies, been translated into 21 languages 
Do mail me at if you want to know more about The Goal or are interested in other books that you want to gift.

The Hindu : Business / Companies : Talking Business: Lot of headroom for growth

June 11, 2012 - Leave a Response

The Hindu : Business / Companies : Talking Business: Lot of headroom for growth.

I came across this interesting interview with Mr Srinath, Managing Director of  Tata Teleservices in today’s Hindu (Please see the link).  Mr Ramnath Subbu has done a splendid job by asking some incisive questions and Mr Srinath’s answers are insightful as well as positive.  He sees what he calls ‘headroom’ for growth in what is perceived to be a highly competitive industry riddled with controversies and intense competition.  His company is in the unenviable position of being caught right in the middle of another controversy.

I have been a customer of his company almost since the day launched their services in Chennai.  In the initial stages, people stayed away from Tata Indicom, as it was called then, because many people thought CDMA to be dying technology, not realising its superior voice and data quality.  While the initial experience was good, the service levels started deteriorating over a period of time, until, one day, I had to personally go to the “hub” near my house to set right some problem, and lo at 18-45 hours they refused to let me in because they were closing at 19-00 hours !  So much for customer care!

Due to the intervention of some highly committed managers, who approached my problem in a professional manner and solved it effectively, I deepened my relationship by moving my company’s entire business.  When Mobile Number Portability became a reality, I moved a couple of our GSM numbers also to this company.  We added more telephone and datacards.  Then fun and games started. Quality f GSM signals were poor.  Though they tried several times, they could nt find a permanent solution.  It deteriorated to the extent that I could not receive or make calls from my GSM Tata Docomo phone sitting in my drawing room or my office room.

Then came 3G !  I was promised one month’s time. That month came and went 14 months ago.  Still no 3 G !

Call drops, voice breaks and other signs of poor quality became more frequent.  The less we talk of signal quality while roaming, the better.  Once I was driving down from Madras to Bangalore.  The signals were almost non-existent.  Then a short drive outside Vaiyambadi I saw a huge Docomo hoarding loudly proclaiming “Our Network follows you everywhere “.  I sopped just below the hoarding and no signal !

Then some months ago while in Mysore, I am in the heart of the city, just outside the MUDA commissioner’s office.  The median in the wide road was planted with several Tata Docomo notices – again proclaiming wide network.  and, you are right,  no signal.

So I decided to move from Tata Docomo FSM to another telecom company and that was not so pleasant.  But thanks to the intervention of senior management, I accomplished that.

CDMA service has been good throughout.  But alas, Mr Srinath doesn’t say anything about expanding it or growing that part of the business in the interview.  After the recent integration of the various brands, of which he does mention briefly,  the customer is often caught in the turf war between the GSM and CDMA “tribes” within the company.

I am sure he and his team, which I know for a fact is full of experienced, innovative and committed managers, will look inside the organisation and take the necessary remedial action to make it into a great company.


January 11, 2012 - Leave a Response


The Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) technique although originated in the automobile industry has proved to be a major threshold in various other industries also. In the late 1950s, Shigeo Shingo, a consultant of the then small automobile company named Toyota realized that large pieces of equipment requiring die changes for the manufacturing of metal sheets was taking too much time resulting in the production of large batches which increased overall costs of the company. SMED was born to facilitate quick changeover of the die. He has written a great book, A Revolution in manufacturing, which describes and guides the reader in a step-by-step manner in this methodology.
Contrary to popular perception, the methodology of SMED is not exclusive to light engineering industry or specifically to sheet metal industry. Over the years, I have come across the application of this methodology in several industries like, Pharmaceuticals, Oil Refineries, Paints, Plastics, Food Processing, Textiles, Soaps, Shoes, and so on. The list is endless. The possibilities are infinite. Sky is the limit for applying to core knowledge of SMED and extend it to improving the process wherever there is a changeover.
Proper implementation of this technique is of great importance in the industries with batch processing. The common problem faced by such companies is heavy production of material in batches. A large Pharmaceutical Formulation Plant has several distinct production areas and it manufactures hundreds of stock-keeping units (SKUs) in batch production mode. In one area technicians blend APIs (Active Pharma Ingredients, the drug) and other key materials (called Exepients) in huge stainless steel equipments. The blend is then compressed into tablets of different sizes based on potency requirement in rapidly rotating machines. Sometime blends, when transformed into a form of pellets, are used for filling into capsules.
Subsequently, depending on their drug release pattern, tablets are coated or left uncoated. The pills are inspected to weed out bad ones. The good ones are then sent to packing lines to pack them in different quantities in blisters, strips, bottles or pouches.
In some plants, there are lines for injectables, gels, lotions, ointments and liquids, which are closer to continuous process, which differ significantly from the process of manufacturing tablets and capsules.
All these different products, processes, packaging means a mind-boggling amount of changeovers which, in a typical plant, can take anything from 30 minutes to nearly 4 hours ! The longer the changeover time, the larger the size of the bath that has to go through such a set up. Larger batches mean the time taken between producing two batches will be very long. This, in turn, means some products will be is short supply and some other products will show a huge surplus inventory. batches. Thus we see that a pharmaceutical factory produces large batches of materials because:
Supplies take a long time to retrieve
Cleaning up from the last batch takes long
Equipments used cannot process small batches
Production of small batches may have great variations.
Once the exact reasons are categorized, applying quick changeover methodology in pharma industry becomes easier and effective as well. In today’s market pharmaceutical manufacturers are experiencing unprecedented market conditions. They are facing tough market competition and the SMED technique has helped them to speed up their process and reduce cost and unnecessary wastage.

Pharma industry enjoys some major advantages by the application of the SMED technique as it helps in reducing the batch size of the products thereby reducing the stock abundance and immobilized capital and prevents wastage due to over production. Also, Simplified operations can be performed without much variation and ensure consistent quality.
All this underscores the urgent need for and relevance of SMED in the pharma sector.
The SMED technique has not only proved vital for Toyota but for various other sectors like pharmaceutical sector and companies involving manual assembly processes. Service organizations also benefit from the SMED technique.

‘ToC abandons local measures and focuses on global picture’

December 13, 2011 - Leave a Response

‘ToC abandons local measures and focuses on global picture’  so goes the title of Vikram Chaudhary’s interview of Sanjay Ghoshal in The Financial Express of 12th December 2011.

In this brief interview Sanjay states in his simple direct and lucid style the fundamental principles of the Theory of Constraints and its application across businesses and activities ranging from Production to Project to Sales & Distribution. It is a good interview, but one thing is patently clear, the interviewer could have delved deeper into Sanjay’s mind and brought out some of the insights Sanjay has gained over a long time of implementing ToC in India and abroad.

Sanjay has been a keen student of ToC.  He has had the good fortune study under Dr Goldratt himself.  For quite some time he was part of SOLUTIONS FOR SALES – a separate company headed by Rami Goldratt which worked in the area of applying ToC to the Sales function.  Sanjay founded Avenir Management Services along with Prasun.  Avenir have been one of the most ardent implementors of ToC.


I was introduced to Sanjay by our mutual friend Ravi Gilani many years ago.  I distinctly remember getting a call from Ravi asking me to meet him at the Le Meridien Hotel in Madras at 4 pm, saying, as though as an added incentive, “Cheenu, I want you to take the trouble of coming over in order to meet someone very interesting”.  Not that I needed any incentive to meet with Ravi.  But, if Ravi said someone is interesting, then he or she will be a very interesting person indeed with many great achievements.

That was my first meeting with Sanjay. I was deeply impressed at the first meeting itself and I found Sanjay to be warm, friendly gentleman with a great sense of humour.  Over the years, we have met several times and for a brief while, when Sanjay was the Regional Director of Goldratt Consulting, I had the opportunity to work closely with him.  After every meeting and interaction with Sanjay, I came out the gainer, having learnt something new and every interaction confirmed my view that here is an extraordinarily capable thinker.

I have wanted to learn ToC Applications in Sales from Sanjay for a long time and I hope to do so soon.  I am keen to publish Selling the ToC by Sanjay Ghoshal in the not too distant future.