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GPS Navigation In Indian Automobiles? May 25, 2007

Filed under: Business Management — SUKUMARAN @ 1:53 pm

By Hinesh Jethwani
Article Dated: Oct 11, 2004

A peculiar problem that I faced during my undergrad days when I designed my first enterprise logistics solution (an overzealous engineering college project), was the lack of accurate information about my countryÂ’s civil infrastructure topology — more simply called “maps” in the more colloquial tourist lingo.

Even with numerous Google searches and repeated requests to civic information departments, these tackily designed “maps” had me all confused; I couldnÂ’t even recognize the names of streets that I thought I knew like the back of my hand. The reason? You see, in India streets are very dynamic — in both nomenclature and size. So the simply and aptly named Ballard Road can turn into “Shoorjee Vallabhdas Marg” in a jiffy.

Maybe the situation has changed since then. But do you think that the Indian driver is ready to navigate his way through this concrete jungle without help forever?Technology, as always, presents a way out, but not without a million complications. With a total of 62,846 cars added to Indian streets in a single month this year (August), GPS would definitely be a multi-million dollar spinner for solution providers.

And its benefits to the Indian enterprise are simply too great to be ignored by our nationÂ’s topology bureau (Not to sure whether it even exists). Consider the Rs 225 crore Safexpress Pvt Ltd., a third-party logistics provider that has become the first company in the Indian logistics industry to use GPS.

BEST is another transport services provider waiting to hop on the GPS bandwagon. Even Bharti has launched its very own GSM-GPS based Fleet Tracking Solution.

The $50 billion logistics market in India is bogged down by the usual constraints of a developing economy, namely inadequate infrastructure, complex tax structure and government apathy.

Echoing the concern is Victor Vasanth, manager, product development, MOL Logistics. “We hear the GPS buzzword for tracking vehicles and consignments, but ironically, roads in India are still not mapped for the purpose, barring those in major urban areas,” he says.

An early player in the passenger vehicle market is GPS India. The vendor has announced today the launch of its GPSMAP 276C, a GPS based automobile navigation device, tailor made for the Indian market.

The portable device works both over land and high seas, enabling the user to reach his destination, even in places where there are no visible landmarks — such as over deserts or mountains, claims the manufacturer. Internationally such devices are used by transport services (land or sea), trucking companies, as well as individuals, especially in interstate traveling and adventure sports. But then again, they donÂ’t suffer from the nomenclature phobia that we do.

The GPSMAP 276C is a chart plotter and automobile navigator with a 256-color TFT display. The solution guides the traveler in real time by displaying positions on a scale map and mapping his progress along the route. The device can also be used in city surroundings (buses, taxis, even private vehicles) and is especially useful for tourists and people visiting unfamiliar places, asserts GPS India.

According to the vendor, the solution is extremely user friendly and does not require any training ” all the user has to do is to select his destination and the extremely crucial ‘map” on the screen will guide him to his destination.

“The GPS technology is rapidly changing how people find their way around. The GPSMAP 276C will enhance the quality of life in cities and improve intra-city and inter-city transit, apart from opening up huge possibilities in logistics, security and adventure sports,” said Sumit Sabharwal, head – North India, GPS India.

“Tourists to India, for example stand to gain hugely if vehicles are fitted with GPSMAP 276C since they can be auto-directed to destinations of interest, restaurants, hotels even emergency services or embassies, without harassment or delays”, he added.

What remains to be seen however, is how a 6-inch display screen squeezes in street names that run into more characters than any GPS manufacturer ever imagined. And may be this is one system that needs to be hooked up to the local citizen information department, so that the systems display only the “most recent” street name after every passing election.



Sustainability issues in India May 23, 2007

Filed under: Business Management — SUKUMARAN @ 2:01 am

India has 28 states and seven union territories covering an area of nearly 1.3 million square miles. Its four regions show pronounced cultural variations, and there are 15 official languages. Hindi is the national language and primary tongue of 30% of the population, but English is often used for political and commercial communications.

The Indian economy is worth about $515 billion and rapidly getting bigger. It grew 7% in 2004 and is forecast to increase by at least 5% a year for the next 45 years – thanks largely to a strong services sector, which contributes nearly half the country’s GDP and has created a growing middle class. However, India is still a primarily agrarian society, characterised by considerable poverty. Seven hundred million of its almost 1.1 billion inhabitants live in the countryside; three hundred million live on less than $1 a day.

India’s large and expanding population – it is projected to reach to 1.6 billion by 2050, a 37.5% increase that will see the country far outstrip China as the world’s most populous state – has also contributed to the huge rise in its use of natural resources and massive environmental degradation. It already consumes more than 510 billion kWh of electricity a year and more than two million bbl/day, but domestic demand for energy is set to triple by 2020. Meanwhile, rapid industrial growth and streets choked with traffic have made the air in the largest cities more polluted than almost anywhere else in Asia.

The key issues

* There is a very wide income gap between the wealthy and the poor, with only 15% of the population reaping the benefits of India’s economic growth and nearly 20% living below the poverty line. This has resulted in a desynchronised pattern of consumption.
* The emphasis is on achieving higher growth, and little effort has been made to decouple growth from consumption.
* Recycling is rare, even though recycling policies exist.
* India has launched an aggressive drive to invest in clean technology and reduce emissions in order to reap the benefits offered by the CDM included in the Kyoto Protocol.
* Bribery and corruption are rife in both the public and private sectors. India scores only 2.8 on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index.
* Child labour is common, as are other human rights issues.
* Few market pressures exist to demonstrate good governance, sound risk management, greater transparency and personal liability at board level. The private sector is acting on these issues on a voluntary basis, but there is little evidence of such measures in the public sector.
* Infrastructure remains the main stumbling block to India’s development and ability to attract foreign investment. It needs more mass transit systems, rural roads, new ports and power plants.

The key drivers

* Indians have little faith in the government and public sector.
* The private sector is keen to catch up with worldwide sustainability trends. This is especially true of Indian multinationals and companies wishing to raise funds via the European or US capital markets.
* The pressure from stakeholders is rising, particularly when it comes to the construction of new infrastructure projects.
* Companies are becoming increasingly aware that they must channel some of their profits into social development, since “islands of prosperity” cannot survive. They are also beginning to realise the importance of preserving the environment.

The implications

* Both public- and private-sector organisations must learn to separate economic growth from consumption. They must also take account of social pressures, if they are to avoid any disruption of their activities.
* The private sector needs better access to capital and credit, especially in the international markets.
* Closer alignment of the interests of private investors and other stakeholders is essential, as is better corporate governance.
* Parts of the public sector must be privatised. The remainder must be managed more effectively and made more accountable.
* Greater attention must be paid to the centralisation of regulatory power and formulation of public policies.





India is becoming a hotbed of sourcing activity for European manufacturers

Filed under: Business Management — SUKUMARAN @ 1:48 am

India is on the rise in global sourcing
By Dave Hannon — 1/16/2007

India is becoming a hotbed of sourcing activity for European manufacturers.

According to a report in the Indian newspaper Economic Times, Rolls Royce has established a sourcing office in India and is steel forging from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited which is used in its civil aircraft engines and is moving to have more Indian suppliers bid on global contracts. The company is also increasing the sourcing of engineering design from India.

In another report, German automaker BMW said it is looking to set up an international procurement officer in India, mostly likely near its new $250 million Chennai assembly plant. According to a report in the Economic Times, BMW has ruled out the city of Delhi because it does not offer port access.

© 2007, Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.



When doing business in India: Take it slow

Filed under: Business Management — SUKUMARAN @ 1:39 am

By David Hannon — 7/13/2006

India’s definitely a hot-spot on the global sourcing radar. But buyers planning on doing business in India need to prepare for what experienced buyers call “Indian Standard Time.”

According to a recent Purchasing survey of buyers currently doing business with suppliers in India, the pace of business—and life in general, for that matter—is slower in India and delays and interruptions are accepted in the culture. Buyers say Indian society in general and its business world lacks a sense of urgency present in most other regions.

“Indian companies miss deadlines,” says Anna Sharda, strategic purchasing manager at Pentair Water in Garden Valley, Minn. “I have worked with companies where the prototypes may be two to three weeks later than the promised date. And it’s difficult to understand because the promises were made daily, along the way. This has, at times, cost our company customers and sales.”

One buyer responding to the survey says, “[Indian suppliers] lack a concept of time. The time from factory to my door is currently seven to eight weeks and when you add in the three months leadtime for the order to leave the factory, I have to order five to six months ahead of demand.”

Frank Busby, director of strategic sourcing at Cybex International in Medway, Mass., says the term “ship date” is used differently in India than it is in the U.S. “Ship date means the time it is finished at the factory—that is not the same day it will ship out of the factory, though. I have seen as much as four weeks delay from the ‘ship date’ until it is actually on board a steamship.”

What’s behind the delays?

But the lack of urgency among Indian companies should not be confused with a lack of desire to get business. Most buyers doing business in India say the suppliers are eager to do business with Western companies, but other issues tend to delay projects.

According to, “Indians appreciate punctuality and keeping one’s commitments. However, many visitors to India find it very disconcerting that often Indians themselves are quite casual in keeping their time commitments. One of the reasons for this is that in the Indian mind, time is generally not considered as the objective yardstick for planning and scheduling one’s activities. Rather, for most Indians, the plans and schedules are contingent on other people and events, and therefore can—and do—get changed.”

Religion, for example, plays a much bigger role in the average Indian’s life than it may in other countries. “They have a religious holiday for everything in India,” says Glenn Scott, vice president of supply chain at Berlin Packaging in Chicago. “I am amazed at how many days they are closed with no production taking place.”

Brian Yoder, a purchasing agent at Weaver Leather in Mt. Hope, Ohio says he was surprised at how much religion enters the business world in India. “I was in Kanpur last year and I was traveling with a supplier and we were in a hurry to get to the airport,” says Yoder. “Still, the supplier had to stop at the bridge over the Ganges River to drop coins into it, because that is a holy river to Hindus.”

Umesh Munjal was born in India and now works in purchasing for Hella Australia. He currently works with five Indian suppliers and says, “The issue of time management needs to be detailed with Indian suppliers. Most of them understand time management but simply do not plan accordingly.”

To avoid major delays, Sharda recommends: supplier audits, getting references from other companies, and starting business small with a new Indian partner. “Frequent visits to verify the progress on the project is going well will help keep the project on time. The best way to avoid delays is work closely on a detailed timeline for the project, but do so with an understanding of that supplier’s capabilities. Sometimes asking the right questions will help you set goals for the project.”

Also, U.S. buyers doing business in India are often struck by the emphasis on family in both business and personal life. Many businesses are still family-owned and operated. Munjal points out that family ownership does not mean they are not professionally run. But it does mean there is a more intense loyalty between employers and employees than Westerners may be conditioned to.

Jude Magima is executive vice president of supply chain for Dabur India, a company based in New Delhi. He doesn’t feel that Indian businesses work as slowly as U.S. buyers feel, but he does offer some suggestions on how to get the point across.

“If time is a concern, then the buyer should make it clear to the Indian that he would like to start meetings on time,” Magima says. “Ask the Indian politely to plan for traffic delays and other issues. We find that Americans often want to use an informal approach for formal things, which gives an impression that informality is acceptable to the Indian. This leads to the mismatch in expectations.”

According to the U.S. Commercial Service, English is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication in India. The major official language is Hindi, which is the primary language of 30% of the people. There are as many as 20 languages spoken in India in total.

While nearly all Indian businesspeople speak English, their accent or version of English may be difficult to fully understand. Smokey Aumond, a procurement manager with Water Wonders of Santa Maria, Calif., says the pace of Indian English is a challenge at times.

“One of the hardest items to overcome is the speed of the Indian English when the seller gets excited,” he says. “Wow. No stenographer could keep up or follow what is being said.”

As one may expect, certain slang expressions don’t translate well with Indian businesspeople. As one survey respondent says, “They seem to adhere to more proper English than we in the U.S. do, likely because they were colonized by the British.”

Learning a few basic Indian greetings can help break the ice and win some smiles. The term and action “namaste”—a greeting—is formed by pressing the palms together (fingers up) below the chin and nodding the head. When greeting superiors or to show respect, a slight bow is added.

Negotiating with companies in India can be a different challenge. Negotiating is a large part of Indian culture—much more so than some other countries. (Westerners don’t negotiate at the supermarket, where Indians often do).

“We Indians love to negotiate and are the most argumentative people in the world,” says Magima. “From negotiating the traffic to groceries, the typical Indian’s life is filled with negotiation. Knowing that, the best way to negotiate with an Indian is silence. Nothing is more frustrating for an Indian than a deal getting done through long interludes of silence.”

Magima also says many Indian suppliers feel buyers are corruptible. To avoid this, the buyer needs to “make his position clear in the beginning.”

Parag Parikh works for Ingersoll-Rand India and says often prices for products in India are governed by local market prices which vary widely, rather than using a global benchmark price. “Also there are high import duties and taxes in India which add to the cost while demand for many materials is increasing,” he says. As a result, long-term contract pricing is difficult to get in India.

“You should not confirm in advance when you expect to depart with your suppliers,” says Scott. “If you do, you will find the hard business discussions won’t take place until right before your announced departure time. Build time in at the end for negotiation.”
Before you go…

About one-quarter of buyers said they consulted an Indian friend or business associate before traveling to the region. Very few (4%) said they brought someone who has been to India before while 8% said they took a class on the culture or business environment in India. Most said they simply read travel books. Scott recommends the book “Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands: How to Do Business in 60 Countries,” by Terri Morrison, Wayne Conaway and George Borden.

Women are still relatively new to the business world in India and are treated somewhat differently than women in Western businesses. While shaking hands is less common among men in India, it is rarely done with women. TIP: When meeting an Indian businesswoman for the first time, wait for her to extend her hand before shaking it.

Many buyers traveling to India for the first time are struck by two things: the crowded nature of the country and the in-your-face poverty that results. Busby points out, “the poverty is not hidden as it is in China.”

Another survey respondent says, “Be prepared for your personal space to be invaded. People just get much closer in India than they do in Western countries.”

As with many underdeveloped areas, some regions of India require travel by train rather than car due to the conditions of the roads. And Yoder says, “Don’t be surprised when you see livestock roaming free in city streets.” Magima points out that because cows are considered sacred in India, they are allowed to have the run of the place.

DOs and DON’Ts to doing business in India


* DO expect delays—in the office, on the roads, in the airports
* DO clearly define the scope of a project and deadlines
* DO routinely visit or check up on the status of a project
* DO expect your personal space to be violated
* DO expect infrastructure challenges from IT to logistics
* DO expect to find highly qualified, professional employees, especially in high-tech


* DON’T point
* DON’T shake hands unless asked to (especially with women)
* DON’T give alcohol as a gift
* DON’T expect to seal the deal in a bar or restaurant
* DON’T stare
* DON’T expect e-mails to be returned instantly
* DON’T order beef

On the Web

* Services rule: a breakdown of the Indian supply market.

India is still a service-heavy economy. Services account for nearly half (46.4%) of the economy in 2000, while industry and agriculture were 27% each. In 2004, India exported $15.56 billion worth of goods and services to the U.S. and imported $6.09 billion.

Source: U.S. Commercial Service,

* Holidays: India’s holidays can impact the pace or completion of a project. Below is a short list of some of the important ones:

Republic Day  January 26
Holi March 15
Ram Navami April 6
Raksha Bandhan August 9
Independence Day  August 15
Gandhi Jayanti  October 2
Idu’l Fitr October 25
Other Hindu, Sikh or Muslim festivals such as Pongal/Makar Sankranti, Idu’l Zuha, Dussehra, Deepawali, Muharram, and Guru Nanak Birthday are celebrated annually. It is advisable to contact the local Indian Embassy/Consulate to find out the holiday list for that particular year.

Source: and U.S. Embassy

* IBM makes $6B investment in India

IBM announced in June it was tripling its current investment in India to $6 billion by 2009 and IBM will spend the money on developing services for telecommunications companies and on facilities in Bangalore from which engineers can automate management of computer networks for clients around the world, Palmisano said in a statement today.

India generated $510 million in revenue for IBM last year, Doug Elix, senior vice president of sales and distribution, told analysts in Bangalore, according to a regulatory filing. That’s the first time IBM has broken out its revenue from the country.

Dell, the world’s largest PC maker, said in March it plans to double the number of workers in India to 20,000 in three years. Microsoft said in December it plans to almost double its workforce in India to 7,000 in the next two to three years.

Source: Reuters

* Salary comparison: A quick look at U.S. vs Indian salaries and why India is so hot.

According to India’s National Association of Software and Service Companies ( India will produce 382,000 engineering graduates this year. The average software programmer salary in India is $7,500 a year, compared with $65,000 in the U.S., according to consulting firm That rate is rising as more companies start and expand operations in the country.

* Let’s do lunch…or not: Tips on business lunches in India.

Business lunches and dinners are not as common in India as in the U.S. and are typically considered more formal affairs. In fact, Jude Magima, executive vice president of supply chain for Dabur India, says “Avoid a meal to do business simply because the average Indian is not as comfortable with cutlery as Westerners. Most Indians even today present a sorry sight at a dinner table where you have to eat with knifes and forks, which makes them very edgy and insecure leading to a meal getting wasted and a deal [going bad.]”



Ten secrets of effective management… March 27, 2007

Filed under: Business Management — SUKUMARAN @ 5:04 pm

The costs of poor management are severe and manifest themselves in countless negative ways including demotivated, demoralized staff, high staff turnover, reduced employee productivity, increased employee uncertainty, a client/company disconnect and increased customer complaints. While a plethora of literature exists on the myriad ways managers can up their performance and positively impact and influence their companies and their teams, below we outline ten basic management tips from the pros.

1. Lead don’t manage
Leaders who ‘inspire’ their teams to perform by example and by communicating and eliciting excitement for a common vision, mission and set of values and goals are far more effective over the long run than their more subdued counterparts who ‘manage’ rather than ‘lead’. While managers control, meddle, limit and demoralize, the leaders excite, enthuse and infuse the organisation with their own contagious positive energy, motivation and dedication to professional principles and ideals as well as their solid, passionate and unwavering commitment to the company and the clients. Leaders manage less rather than more and while guiding and overseeing broad strategic issues and communicating closely with their teams, refrain from regularly interfering in the day-to-day tasks and workloads or micromanaging. As people take their cues from the boss, the boss’s principles, tone, work ethic, values, workstyle, energy and motivation will largely influence and determine the corporate culture.

2. Hire the best
A manager’s performance is a direct function of the performance of his team – by definition his role is to achieve a specific output or desired result through his employees and as such there is no substitute for surrounding yourself with the best possible players in the field and grooming them to excel. Confident managers are not afraid to hire Grade A players, they do not fear such employees will downplay their own track record or undermine their profile and abilities. To the contrary, good managers recognize that top performers will lift the whole division and will reflect directly in purely positive terms on their boss. Grade A players are motivated, driven, energetic, innovative, have the right attitude, aptitude, experience, abilities and their enthusiasm and quest for excellence usually sifts through the entire organization infusing it with renewed vigor and competitiveness. Just as excellence is contagious, so is mediocrity and incompetency – good managers are vigilant to never permit mediocrity in the front door and to excise it immediately should it rear its uncompetitive head before it manifests itself further across the organisation to everyone’s detriment.

3. Set clear goals
Setting goals is the first step towards achieving peak performance. These goals must be clear, specific, reasonable and attainable. The team must be able to articulate these goals in no uncertain terms and commit to them. Once the expectations are set, training programs and resource allocation can be tailored around these milestones and performance measured accordingly. A team that cannot articulate the company’s mission and goals and their own is a team destined for failure. A team set unreasonable, unrealistic goals is also set for failure. Good managers understand what is reasonable and attainable and ensure that the teams have the tools, training, infrastructure, resources and know-how necessary to achieve these goals. A good rule is to tell your team “what” needs to be done and “why” and leaving them to determine the “how” based on their best professional judgement and all the resources and know-how made available to them.

4. Listen to your team
A good manager listens to his team, closely monitors the issues they are facing and acts as a sounding board for their concerns, problems and ideas. Good listening starts with being open minded and approachable and involves paying close attention and making an effort to truly understand the issues raised while respecting the different viewpoints, communicating your understanding and offering nuggets of wisdom, direction, guidance or advice where sought for or appropriate. Ask questions where you are unclear about something. Probe. Reiterate key points to make sure you understand correctly. A manager divorced from the unique needs of his team cannot begin to motivate or inspire them toward a common goal. A manager who listens with objectivity, respect and discipline translates into a team that listens, both to each other and to the client and this is often the first step towards a winning, client-oriented service and product line. Good listening need not stop with the team – ideas, feedback and advice can come from anywhere, often from unlikely sources, and a good manager is always receptive to them.

5. Communicate effectively
Effective communication means clear, concise and timely communication and open lines of communication between the manager and his team. This goes beyond effective listening to communicating the mission, goals, standards, values and job expectations, giving ongoing and regular feedback to employees, seeking and acknowledging feedback from the team on decisions that affect them, relaying both positive and negative news in a timely manner, motivating and coaching the team and positively reinforcing employees in both public and private for jobs well done.

6. Respect your team
A good manager is consistently and unwaveringly respectful towards his team in attitude, words and actions. They do not look down on their teams nor do they consider themselves above maintaining a healthy, robust and direct line of communication with them. Good managers never belittle, humiliate, embarrass, threaten or otherwise undermine the integrity of their employees. When they need to criticize they do so professionally, constructively and in private; in public they laud, commend and motivate. Good managers never single out an employee to publicly flog or scream at nor do they create a culture where anger, ranting, raving, blaming, accusing or screaming are acceptable. Autocrats and dictators fail as managers over the long run; respectful leaders win the loyalty and commitment of their teams and succeed.

7. Create a learning culture
Teaching is a high leverage activity – the amount of time you spend training and coaching an employee or group of employees will generate a high return on investment that should with positive ramifications infiltrate many levels of the organisation. While you teach, your own learning and understanding of the subject matter will be enhanced. Make sure your own training and self-education remains uninterrupted as you progress up the career ladder even as you teach and provide training programs for subordinates. In this knowledge-economy age we live in, education, skills, knowledge rapidly become obsolete and it is essential to stay ahead of the productivity and innovation curve through constant training and education. Competitiveness necessitates a highly trained workforce – make sure you allocate key resources including some of your own precious time to the regular and ongoing training and development of employees. Groom them for success and cultivate great future leaders by providing the best training feasible while continuously updating, refining and enhancing your own skills.

8. Delegate Don’t Abdicate
Good managers don’t hire a team then do the job themselves – they delegate then supervise, monitor, inspect and provide feedback. Delegating does not mean a handover then washing your hands clean of the project – delegation without supervision is abdicating! Make sure you set a clear schedule for follow-up and regularly track progress towards agreed goals. Managers who delegate without ensuring their teams receive the proper resources, tools and training are setting their teams up for failure. Similarly, managers who assign responsibilities then rob their subordinates of all decision-making ability and authority while maintaining complex bureaucracy and rigid, archaic policies/procedures are dooming their teams to failure. Finally, managers who meddle, control, micro-manage and routinely take over tasks that veer off-course rather than leaving their subordinates to take charge and see the project through to completion are also inefficiently allocating valuable resources and undermining their subordinates. Employees who are routinely divorced of their responsibilities in such a manager cease to feel accountable and eventually lose motivation.

9. Remove barriers to success
Make sure the policies and procedures in place in your company help rather than hinder peak performance and success. Workplace rules and regulations should be minimized and facilitated to be easy to comprehend and follow rather than a barrier to success. Any rules/procedures, bureaucracies or other boundaries that paralyze, delay and frustrate rather than catalyze the efficient production process should be rethought and wherever possible removed or alternatives found. Workers should be encouraged to constantly innovate and optimize on their work processes and output and work processes should consequently be flexible enough to allow for this constant redefining and innovation. Strive to give employees freedom – the unfettered freedom to create, innovate, improve and exceed all expectations and performance targets.

10. Focus on the Customer
Effective managers realize that the customer is the real boss. Customers through their purchasing decisions hire and fire employees every day and their actions, attitudes and habits ultimately determine the shape, focus and size of the organisation. A boss’s focus on the customer will permeate the organization and create a customer-driven organization where everyone realizes that they work for and are ultimately paid by the customer. All positions in an effective organisation should be geared towards either getting or keeping a customer. The successful manager will take responsibility for training the employees in the fine art and science of getting and keeping customers while removing all corporate and procedural barriers that fetter these activities.


Leadership Strategy…

Filed under: Business Management — SUKUMARAN @ 5:01 pm

Strategy Execution:
The way to get strategy executed is not by telling people what to do. It’s by sharing the strategy in a way that everyone can understand and buy into it, and see how their jobs relate to it. Then by putting the people processes in place to enable and encourage strategy execution. Leadership is not simply a matter of behaviour and style. Leadership is mainly about strategy and getting your strategy executed.What is required of leadership?

This was the question that was asked in the recent Leadership Survey (undertaken by Management Centre Europe, the American Management Association and the Human Resource Institute of the University of Tampa). 1,600 executives and managers of global companies responded.

Respondents said the main job of leaders is to:
Formulate the strategy > Communicate the strategy > ENSURE STRATEGY EXECUTION > Measure the results
Once you have decided upon your strategy, then this strategy needs to communicated to your people. This critical task has replaced management’s traditional role of planning people’s work:
Communicating the strategy replaces planning people’s workIt is well-recognised that globalisation and technology contribute to a rapidly changing and complex business environment where “knowledge work” becomes ever more important. Consequently, managers at every layer are abandoning the idea that good management is about planning their people’s work. People increasingly must plan their own work and make their own decisions.The key to good management, and therefore good leadership, is in communicating and getting buy-in to the strategy, and in making sure that the decisions and actions people take are in alignment with the strategic direction of the organisation.
“Twenty-five years ago, management meant control. Managers put in controls, handed workers specifications, and established formal structures that ensured people did what they were told….. Today…executives say the hardest thing they have to do is improve people and corporate culture…. Rather than chasing another new management fad, or expecting still another magic bullet to come along, managers should focus on execution to effectively use the organizational tools we already have.” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter in Execution: The Un-Idea. Fast Company.
“Strategy Execution” is critical, yet it is easier said than doneLarry Bossidy and Ram Charan, in their book Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done strongly support strategy execution as a critical leadership role, making three clear statements:

1. Execution is a discipline, and integral to strategy.
2. Execution is the major job of the business leader.
3. Execution must be a core element of an organization’s culture

However, “Strategy Execution” appears to be a real challenge:
The difficulties with “Strategy Execution”Professor Lawrence G. Hrebiniak, Wharton Business School, recently identified the following issues. All four of the problems mentioned below are people-related issues:

* Managers are trained to plan, not execute.
* Some top executives do not see themselves as responsible for implementation of the strategies they formulate.
* Strategy execution happens over a much longer time frame than strategy formulation.
* Strategy implementation involves more people than strategy formulation.

Professor Lawrence Hbrebiniak at Wharton. Making Strategy Work: Leading Effective Execution and Change by Lawrence G. Hrebiniak, Wharton School Publishing. New Jersey, 2005.
Strategy Execution issues are mainly about People AlignmentThe execution of a strategy very often fails because leaders do not focus on the critical issue of aligning the people to the strategy and the processes.“The People Process is more important than either the strategy or operations processes. After all, it’s the people of an organization who make judgments about how markets are changing, create strategies based on those judgments, and translate the strategies into operational realities. If you don’t get the people processes right, you will never fulfill the potential of your business”. Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan in Execution.
Measuring People Alignment: You should measure and monitor how well your organisation or division actively supports and is aligned to your strategy, and – if required – uncover the reasons why this may not be the case.“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”
Aligning Your People to Execute the StrategyHave a clear strategy and understand its implications throughout your companyIt is well understood that a company or a division or business unit has to formulate its strategy based on a clear Customer Value Proposition for a particular target market or segment. Each strategy is special, but most can be categorised broadly into one of three categories:

* Price/ no frills (value brand)
* Product plus (provide the most valuable product/service or combination)
* Specific customer solution (designed around a client’s needs).

Leaders, however, often underestimate that different strategies require different organisational behaviours – and therefore different leadership. This is particularly true in the following situations:

* Companies or divisions that are in the process of a strategy change. Change management efforts often fail because the strategy has changed and perhaps been communicated, but leadership behaviours and many people processes remain the same.
* Companies whose activities cover more than one strategy type. Different business units playing in different strategies need to have specific people processes that support the execution of their chosen strategy.

Clearly, leadership has to take a very different approach for each of the strategies mentioned above. But what, specifically, do leaders do to align their people to execute the strategy? Communicate the strategy and get buy-inRobert Kaplan and David Norton of Harvard Business School conducted research which found that a staggering 95% of employees in a company are either unaware of, or do not understand the strategy.

o Too often, strategy is formulated in a vacuum, and then centrally broadcast as a “done deal”. The communication is either too vague or too detailed for anyone to understand what it really means. No effort is made to check for understanding or measure the effectiveness of communication in terms of buy-in translated into action.

o The more people are involved in helping to shape the strategy, and/ or shape the execution plan, the more they feel part of the process and are likely to support it. Also, the more knowledge leaders can get from the front line of the organisation, the more effective their strategies and execution will be.