Promoting alternate platforms of MSME Finance

The Small and Medium Enterprise sector (SME) contributes to more than 45% of the GDP besides 45% to the total manufacturing output and 40% to the exports. The Annual Repo of Ministry of MSME 2015-16 states that MSME require about INR 44 trillion of which 35 trillion is debt demand and 9 trillion for equity. The 4th All Indian survey of MSME’s indicates about 90% of their financial requirements is met through informal sources. Public sector reach and access to finance for MSME is limited..  Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) set up by Govt. of India and SIDBI, was expected to drive credit based on the viability of the project rather than on collateral. However, data indicates that less than 6% of the loans were disbursed to start-ups and Small and tiny businesses. Many a needy entrepreneurs could not access the credit as on several parameters such as DSCR, leverage, etc, their business plans fell short of the traditional lending norms.

Government’s latest initiative like Startup India and Standup India need more pronounced support for IP, scaling up and capacity building. Amongst alternate platforms of SME finance, Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending and merchant finance show huge promise. Peer to peer lending platforms have succeeded growing rapidly by using technologies, eliminating the middlemen and allowing the borrowers and lenders to communicate directly. P2P institutions adopt an online reverse auction approach.  Most marketplace lending platforms do not require collateral which is a boon especially for service-oriented businesses. SMEs can also benefit from the fact that their performance on these platforms can be driven by various non-conventional data points. What regulatory changes are required to drive development of P2P lending. US administration under President Obama has implemented Regulation A+ route for crowdfunding. Regulation A+ provides an exemption for US and Canadian issuers seeking up to USD 50 Million in a 12-month period from filing reports with the SEC. Since these securities are unrestricted they can be traded in the secondary market. Listing on India’s SME Exchange would cost about 0.49 per cent of the total offered amount which is one of the cheapest for SME Exchanges worldwide. It is likely that an Indian adoption of Regulation A+ could prove to be even more economical for SMEs. To encourage P2P lending spread governments across the globe are pursuing innovative changes on personal tax front. UK laws now allow earnings to be treated as personal savings allowance and exemption from tax up to GBP 1000 for basic tax payers and GBP 500 for higher tax payers is allowed. This allows them to net off losses from loans if any.

E-commerce giants in India such as Amazon, Flipkart, ShopClues and so on have been aiming at expanding their sellers base by providing a range of services, including financial support. SMEs who supply for e-commerce platforms can now receive loans for working capital requirements either from financial institutions or sometimes from the e-commerce platform itself. To promote India GI and cultural products government can consider special purpose programs by rerouting marketing subsidies offered at various level to all major platforms. Such an initiative would help increase the reach and profitability of many India centric product companies.

Aishwarya Nair, BCom (Professional), CIMA, Junior Consultant (Finance)

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Are your sales and marketing aligned across Segments?

Robert De Nero and Anne Hathway starer “The Intern” has a particular scene wherein the sales analysis shows the company has been spending more marketing dollars on low value segments and practically nothing at all on high margin low volume segment.  Does not this sound familiar? While companies realize Sales and marketing need to be tightly aligned, but that seldom is the case.  A senior marketing director in a recent conversion blurted out that while her marketing budget has increased YoY, the ROI seems to be elusive. What was bothering her was the fact the company spends substantially in curated events managed by respected analysts, and yet sales find the coverage insufficient.

Companies spend a fortune on the conferences and events but the outcomes belie expectations. It is not surprising for many corporates to find 75% of the participants who attended their events came for free lunch or a swanky dinner. Many of the participants may not be the decision maker or influencers, but pretty junior in their organization. Corporate gifts, industry exhibitions cost a dime, and yet ineffective. Albeit companies continue to pursue many of these acts they are afraid to pause and question fundamentals. What is the objective of the event?. Why this city and this hour?, How this format will help sell their ware?. Unfortunately, many leaders want to just follow the herd. Therefore it is not surprising when studies across industry indicate:

  • 50% of marketing budget is totally wasted
  • Only 34% of feel their content marketing works
  • 25% had no marketing strategy
  • 44% had no alignment between various marketing media

So how can companies ensure their marketing dollars are well spent and drive intended sales outcome. On the outset, it is important to realize marketing function serves three objectives. These are inform, influence and advocacy.  Any marketing activity is to help consumers associate with the brand, help differentiate its offerings and seek higher revenues. Companies use various marketing assets to communicate to the interest group their unique existence, product/service offering set, pricing and other advantages. The objective is maximize reach at an affordable cost. Companies use several approaches to drive influence. Awards, citations, sponsored industry events, directed online community forums, endorsements are all effective mediums of influencing consumers. Advocacy is to enlist willing individuals who would eschew the role of brand ambassadors and drive positive word of mouth.

Different marketing assets serve different purpose and effective at different stages of sales cycle. Assets such as breakfast meeting facilitates more personalized one on one discussion that may be more effective in later stages of sales cycle. On the other hand,   assets like newsletter or blog may be more useful in the early stages of sales cycle. Marketing assets also vary by their cost and impact. Some of these cost a dime and more effective to lock-in, while some may be low cost approaches to increase reach only.

Companies can realize better return on investments in their sales and marketing when these functions are congruent and well-coordinated. Congruency can be gained by ensuring same goals drive their quarterly activities, common goals entwine both functions at various levels and incentives encourage them to support each other. Coordination improves when event plans, promos, content marketing and other assets are aligned with sales motions. It is important to realize sales motions differ across segments within a company. Segments vary on the “value” of purchase and the number of customers in that particular segment. It is common to have a segment A that has few numbers of customers with a high purchase value. B and C segments are those with lower values of purchase and incumbent sizes. Each of these segments exhibit different sales behaviour. Purchasing cycles may be longer and more formal in Segment A, while the decision making could be shorter in Segment C.  Sales may have to interact and influence multiple owners in enterprise segment. Order qualifying criteria may not be just enough in Segment A. Marketing must be able to push the company over to order winning plateau.

Segment A requires an enterprise sales approach where formal decision structures and vendor registration and assessments exist. Customers in this segment may be well informed about the happenings in the markets, and well-endowed to invest high ticket investment. Many customers in this segment may already been served by your competitors and would only move if there is a compelling value proposition in terms of cost, or innovation advantage. Sales function is completely managed by direct sales as relationships and continuous coverage matter to enter and grow the revenues. While inside sales functions support the direct sales with deeper profiling of people and secondary data analysis, direct sales has a key role in engagement of the segment.

Customers in segment A place a high premium on scalable and proven solutions. Prior experience and in depth expertise of the vendor play a key role in awarding the project. Marketing platforms must facilitate experience sharing and credibility reinforcing functions for direct sales to influence and close deals in this segment.  Thought leadership vehicles including standards, industry frameworks and innovation ideas fly well in face to face meetings with the customers.  Breakfast meetings, Industry association, standard setting bodies, and Knowledge sharing conferences serve as valuable platforms for direct sales to position the company at state of art knowledge.  These platforms allow discussions to be personalized and centred on solving the problems the clients face, hence meeting service immediacy.

On the other hand, segment C, which has large number of customers with low ticket value may need a marketing and sales approach where the total transaction costs are optimised.  It is practical to have inside sales as the champion to host and on board customers in segment C. Marketing functions role for this segment is to improve the reach across the market and reuse the content to improve the richness of various marketing assets.  Companies can improve the reach and engagement with Segment C by adopting a consistent campaign blast policy. Mail them a newsletter, case studies and customer wins to increase awareness about your brand. Emphasize on content creation, curation and extension to reduce investments in content development. Content can be text, video and other formats. Use social media platforms to connect owners and decision makers and also to run campaigns.  Figure 1 presents the alignments between Segments and Marketing assets.

Figure 1: Alignment between segments and marketing assets.

pict

Sales efficiencies can be gained only when direct sales team are running after few accounts with a deeper insight and ownership. Also, how the inside and partner (indirect) sales team complement the direct sales matters for Segments B and C. What works best is when companies know how to mesh mash both sales and marketing functions for each segment. Have a quarter-wise marketing plan aligned to sales expectations. Content development and curation can happen in stages and stronger stories and messaging will emerge with each asset to engage and influence customer. Having a common Head of Sales and marketing or marketing aligned with sales in another structural approach that can be tried. Cross functional teams tasked with joint activities across sales and marketing will also be useful.

Dr TR Madan Mohan

 

 

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Setting up partnership firms for success

What is the common thread amongst HP, Apple, eBay, Twitter, Berkshire Hathaway, Microsoft, Home Depot, Infosys, Dolce & Gabbana, and Valentino?  These are all fine examples of partnership companies that have lasted for a long time and some continue to grow stronger even now. Unfortunately, a whopping 70% of partnership firms end in divorce or closure in first 5 years of founding itself.

Partnerships like marriages stay stronger when they embrace following elements.  Most successful partnership recognises individual limitations and builds their enterprise capability and growth around the strengths of each partner. Successful partnership requires respecting differences in traits & personality of each partner without making it uncomfortable or vulnerable for any of the partners. Successful partnership, borrowing from Ballantine’s advertisement, let each partner be unflinchingly and unapologetically who they are.  Berkshire and Apple are classic cases where partners with completely different personalities work to direct, protect and correct the company’s investments and growth options. Successful partnership exhibits a healthy dose of ‘yes’ and ‘nay’ discussions that clear the cobwebs of assumptions and self-doubts.

An important element of successful partnership companies is the high intensity of trust between partners. Successful partnership requires unquestionable belief in the reliability and consistency of other partners. It is important to address disagreements, disapprovals and frustration at early stage. Acknowledging the contributions of other partners in shareholder meetings and media interactions is a key element to cement stronger bonds, especially in the initial stages of partnership. Procrastination and avoidance are not best for retaining trust between partners and sustaining the organization. Consistent follow through of details and taking time to remind each other of what they like about each other reinforces trust.

Successful partnership requires at early stage of founding complementarity in skills and assets. Partners choose to own and drive areas where each of them has interest, experience and passion. Well defined job roles for each and accountability eliminates opportunities for any friction between them. Execution ownership and expectation alignment are key to sustaining business partnerships. Many successful partnerships also see a rotation of roles amongst partners. Partners move from backend or production to customer facing, and those working on the client side move to product development or production. Such role changes help to bring a comprehensive view of the business to each of the partner and close any gaps.  High mutual respect for contributions and appreciate the outcomes from each partner without iota of envy keeps the partnership going strong.

A key ingredient that sustains partnership in business is common goals and shared dreams. In fact many partnerships fall apart when intermediate goals are met and the other partner(s) loose appetite for the long haul.  Successful partner companies need to have a superordinate goal that can remain relevant even with the growth of the company and greying of the partners.  Alignment of personal values acts as a glue holding partners as company and individuals mature.

Open communications and partner rituals play an important role in cementing trust and longevity of relationships. Successful partners have a no holds barred communication policy that completely eliminates “opportunism” for other parties. On the lighter side, some partners are known to confide in each other than their spouses.  Institutionalizing partner sojourns and partner only rituals provides uncluttered space for partners to discuss and realign continuously, even when life goals are changing. Whenever you or partners feel uncomfortable or vulnerable or feel a little envious, check your ego and open the doors of communication.

If you are partners of a startups or an established SME, remember to bring in some elements of institutionalization to sustain the partnership.

  1. First, create a company board. Ensure your board represents partner’s role and rights. Spousal representation is a touchy area and must be handled in an inclusive manner. As far as possible avoid bringing in relationship from one side of partners. Bring in outside professionals who can offer unbiased directions and zealously protect the assets and reputation of your company.
  2. Professionalize your organization by bringing in experienced professionals to support you and partners so that a leadership chain gets developed quickly.
  3. Adopt best practices for accounting and finance. Ensure petty cash handling is minimized.
  4. Ensure each partner directs and reviews areas of his passion and interest. Align departments to the interest and capabilities of the partner.
  5. Institutionalize some corporate events wherein not just the partners, but their spouses and children participate. Founder’s day, Annual day, Christmas Dinner events are some examples.
  6. Formalize performance review mechanisms and ensure the FOCUS is on results and outcomes, not personalities.
  7. Decide who amongst you would don “basking in the sun” role, while other would play Greta Garbo away from the Arclight role.

If your company has survived the golden years of partnership, the next gate of death may actually occur when ownership transition need to happen to the next level. Like a family business, partner run business do need a charter detailing how the succession will happen, how the representation across the owners is fair and the continuity of business is preserved.  Partner led companies can thrive across generations when they can successfully “demarcate” ownership from the executives.  Partner led companies need to have a formal process of succession planning.  Success of succession planning depends on the planning and execution. Partnership companies can explore multiple mechanisms including rotational chairmanship, creation of an investment arm, board representations across units, and trustee positons, etc. to preserve multigenerational partnerships.

Working together is never simple.

Successful partnership like a marriage requires a little bit of serving, counter-balancing, and occasional mending of edges.

That is the secret recipe of enduring business partnerships.

Dr TR Madan Mohan and D Balasubramaniam

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Are you measuring your start up performance rightly???

Do you know the most common reasons for failure of startups? CB Insights report (July 2016) based on 166 startups reveal some interesting insights including running out of runway and poor finance management as primary reasons. These startups could have survived had they implemented effective performance management system to keep their heads up. Running a startup is akin to successfully landing an aircraft. The pilot needs to have right information about length of the runway, visibility, height and should know when he should switch to fly by wire. A plethora of measures only adds to complexity and confusion. What is needed is a simple set of integrative financial and non-financial measures (leading not just lag) to avoid a crash.

What are the key financial aspects every startup must track? Do you know which lead measures can help you decide immediate corrective actions? The most important financial measures include revenue growth and revenue indicators such as bookings which your customer is obliged to pay over the course of your contract, billings which are collected in advance at the time of booking, and gross merchandise value of transactions. Another key element to be tracked is cash in the form of net cash burned as well as cash earned. Your startup could be a brilliant idea but wouldn’t be able to survive long enough to become profitable if you can’t manage cash efficiently. Due to this reason, it is equally important to monitor account payables and reduce pressure on your cash balance. As a startup, tracking the maximum earnings decline ratio for each quarter is the most effective signal to save the business before it drowns. Finally, as important as it is for your startup to build traction and deepen revenue streams, be aware of how much you’re spending to attract more customers. Monitor the customer acquisition cost as well as the customer acquisition payback period so that you don’t end up burning a hole in your pocket.

Do you know the non-financial metrics that would help you in making better sense of the financial measures? The Pirate Metrics devised by McClure is a powerful customer-centric tool that could be used. Rate of Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referrals, and Revenue are good measures of dynamism of your startup. Measure customers acquired through discounts as well as freebies as these tell you about your customer acquisition. Knowing the percentage of active users will provide better insight into your business performance by eliminating the accidental one time users or first time users. Percentage of orders that required rework, the delivery time per order and percentage of deliveries achieved on time are key measures you must have to capture operational excellence. How does your business measure customer satisfaction and loyalty? The net promoter score is an excellent tool to gauge customer satisfaction. It measures how likely it is that your customers would recommend your product or service to others. Make sure you bean count time to hire, cost to hire and quality of hire to know how good your HR team is supporting your startup dreams.

Finally, remember the measurement must be to drive managerial effectiveness, ownership and accountability at different levels. Remember to keep your cost of running the measurement system low. What you do not need for a startup is a superfine measurement system that comes with a huge cost of collecting, collating and making sense of data. What you need is simple guideposts that tell you whether your direction is right and the speed is right. Keep it simple and stupid (KISS!!).

Aishwarya Nair, Junior Consultant (Finance) and Sai Vinoth T R, Asst Consultant (Sales and Marketing)

To or Not to On board heir into family business NOW!.

Every family business owners goes through this tough decision. Whether to on board the progeny into the family business or let her pick knuckled hard outside and join later is a tough call.  The decision to bring in the successor is contingent upon factors including education, scale of business, incumbent qualified professionals, maturity of the business, and alignment of dreams and commitment.  Wherever the educational background is directly relevant to the existing business and the heir could comprehend the nuances of the business and contribute on boarding could be useful, more so if the heir is going to manage and direct line roles.  If the educational background is unrelated and the heir can manage staff roles the decision would be contingent on other factors. A ward with prior industry experience, exposed to the intricacies of how business work may perform well even if she has no family business related industry experience. Scale and maturity of the organization play also play a crucial role in the decision to on board. Early stage growth firm may find on boarding a ward beneficial if she can own and independently drive some key initiatives and functions. Having a trusted family member to share the responsibilities and pace up growth can work if the outcome ownership and governance are well defined.  If the family business maturity in terms of process and resources is low, an experienced heir can come handy, while a freshly minted heir may add to inefficiencies if expectations are not matched early during induction and constantly reinforced.   Incumbent professionals in terms of bench strength and commitment also impact whether you could on board your ward and set her to win.

Amongst all the factors impacting the decision to whether to on board or not, two important ones have a huge impact. These are alignment of dreams across generations and commitment of the ward. Wherever the dreams of the heir are well etched out and in tune with the previous generation, the on boarding may yield better results. If the dreams are not completely aligned in the long run, but the immersion may leads to merging of the dreams succession may end fruitful if industry and markets remains attractive and the heir drives more value creating engines. Finally, what matters is the commitment of the ward. Does he join the business out of desire or obligation or opportunism determines the commitment and likely outcome of the directions. When the heir join out of interest and passion to the business, and have goal fueled by many enchanting discussions about family business at family dinner table, on boarding prove to be beneficial. If the progeny joins the family business out of obligation, the low commitment can hurt the family business if they are caught at the cusp of growth or market changes.  Investing in professional managers to run the business can mitigate the potential risk when heirs join due to obligation.  Whenever the heir joins due to opportunism (lack of other alternatives or the family business experience equips him with better capabilities), such an on boarding is due to opportunism. Such an arrangement can work when results are passable and market benevolent. Summing up, whether to on board or not a heir depends upon:

  • Ward wants to join because of desire or obligation or opportunism
  • Ward has related industry prior experience or wants to learn on the job
  • Has Education is related to you business, or unrelated to your business
  • Scale and maturity of the company
  • Emergent Economic and business opportunities
  • Number of qualified professionals
  • Alignment of dreams and actions

Dr TR Madan Mohan

Obtaining leadership commitment

A German manufacturing organization with offices in Pune and Bangalore has unique problem. Their highly talented engineers don’t want to move the management ladder and transition from developers to managers. With limited next line of leadership, and challenges on culture fit of resources from market the company was challenged to scale up quickly.  Management realized the crux of the resistance lied in transforming the technical staff to imbibe and practice a sense of outcomes, urgency and above all review and direct peers and colleagues. The technical staff hated to move out of the comforts of the comradery position which did not require ownership of others. Despite abundant availability of individuals with experience and managerial capabilities the company found its leadership development floundering. The company had tried push of an employee early into a leadership position when he/she was not sure and the haul has been a failure.  It was not the capabilities or the administrative support that mattered, but simply the change commitment of the employee to transform from an individual role to team management role that required planning, directing, reviewing and owning others that determined the success of internal leadership development.  Here we are not talking about the Meyer and Allen models of organizational commitment of the individual and its major components (affective, continuous and normative).   What we are addressing is the emotional commitment an employee invests to implement a new strategy. Passion, excitement, pride and energy are the signs of a committed employee.  To attain this dramatic change of attitude to occur, people must not only accept and agree with the strategy, they must buy into it. Without emotional commitment, even the most brilliant strategies will fail. Growing leaders internally is a process that requires planning, high intensity of follow through, and freedom to emerge from failures What is the best approach to gain acceptance, support and commitment of an associate?.

Based on our experience we propose a six stage model for employee commitment buying process. The process includes: identification, goal enumeration, assessment, alignment, reiteration, and formalization.

First and foremost, one should assess an employee’s interest and passion towards his/her work. As the famous saying states, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life, but celebrate each moment”. Identify and develop them early: Most successful internal leadership programs quickly identify leadership potentials and others very quickly. Look for obvious signs of quality of work, sense of ownership of team, quality of feedbacks to colleagues, initiative for breaks with team, etc

Once the employee is identified her manager may provide bird eye view of the organization’s goals, and immediate concerns, and different team members strengths that are required to reach the goals. The objective of the session is to enumerate the immediate future, how the individual can contribute to the cause and what would be the impact at organizational, team and individual level.  The employee is involved in ideation of the goal, the impact it would create at different levels and what resources may be required at each level. At this stage, the objective is to create vibrant imagery of possible state and acceptance by recipient similar to “to broaden and build theory” of Fredrickson. Manager’s only focuses on strength, latent potential and how fuel it. Communication is selective, articulation is directed laden with vibrant imagery. Positive emotion and sense of excitation changes the individual’s conscious and unconscious drives for better long-term outcomes.

Next step is role visualization and capability assessment. The manager and the associate dwell deeper into the roles. The manager innocuously steers the discussions towards individual’s assessment  of her strengths, capabilities and gaps. Manager directs the flow based on a certain frame that of allows for self-evaluation without the burden of guilt and incapability. Communications are deliberate, are “frame” based thus allowing ruminations in a collaborative environment.  Evaluations are deliberated towards role rather than a person centric.

Next stage is alignment, wherein the manager discusses how the individual can contribute to the organizational goal and fitment of the job and capabilities.. Manager emphasizes the latent capabilities of the employee, reposes confidence in the ability to catch up and expands the role horizon of the employee. The discussion would be open, and transparent to discuss the role expectations, how the role dimensions would impact the short term and medium term, what may be the training and skills sets and sharing of apprehension and experiences. External validation and internal acceptance by the associate is the main objective of this stage. Manager, in this stage, leads the associate with directions towards organizational, team and individual goals as well as supports him in moving forward to achieve the goals. Manager proposes a deliberate break of days to allow the employee to do introspection, carry out minor changes towards the goals and receive internal and external validation of the transformation.

Manager and the employee meet up to recapture the goals, the activities that may be required at organizational, and team level to drive the performance and the individual contributions. Manager digs deeper into the change attempts made by the associate, and appreciates all achievements, however minor they may be. Manager’s focus would be to emphasize the value the associate can bring to the goals and what would be the changes the role mandates.   He also makes the employee reassess oneself to own possibilities of attaining the desired goals and activities. He repaints employee’s motivation to own and drive the desired goal. Once the associate is convinced, the duo need to revisit the drawing board to evaluate the fitment of schemas, assets, roles and acts. In this stage, manager refines and repaints organizational, team and individual goals and describes the best suitable approach for the individual.

The final stage is commitment formalization stage where, goals at various levels are tied, action plans are discussed and detailed, training and support are documented, platforms for information sharing and support are detailed and review mechanisms are accepted. Formalization stage must ensure while the outcomes are important, the pace and tactics are owned by the associate, there is plenty of room for failures and learn without stigma so that continuity commitment is not affected. Formalization stage must also detail informal self-review mechanisms where the individual can elicit the feedback, discuss and digest and push the agenda of improvement by themselves.

Ashwini K. S

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How companies are adopting Holacracy principles to build effective sales teams

For many companies, sales function is an area where outcome is never closer to expectation. Companies suffer from weak funnels, missed closures, lengthier closure cycles, order losses and attrition.  These are the waste that emanate in sales function. It is well known sales teams that hunt as a pack always produce better results than those that hunt individually. Unfortunately, many sales teams discourage sharing of information about networks & influence of client organizations across team members. Many a times a particular sales resource may be approaching a client organization in a certain suboptimal way without privy to alternate courses. Other colleagues may have prior experience of the account and/or situation to tide over the apprehensions. Bereft of multiple perspectives, the sales cycle would linger, and eventually the sales resource will lose interest on the account and drop it from his hunt. Incomplete sharing of information and inadequate planning for a particular opportunity is another challenge sales team face.  Weak alignment, between inside sales and direct sales teams or KAM teams with others is another area that leads to sales inefficiencies.  Role conflicts and tensions may also arise due to operational and personality issues.  Poor policies on account transfer between direct and inside sales team, weak sales operations, and ineffective review can exacerbate drop rates. A salient issue in solution selling companies is lack of comprehensive involvement, poor alignment and ineffective role management between pre-sale and sale teams across various stages of a customer acquisition. Diffused and selective ownership without a complete coverage of customer experience management leads to lengthy customer requirement cycles, protracted customer sign off process and potential financial loss.

Companies are realizing to counter bounded rationality problems, improve commitment and camaraderie within the sales teams, they need to build coopetition teams.  Teams in a coopetition collaborate to address common challenges, and address gaps and yet can remain competitive in pursuit of the individual goals. In recent years, companies like Ternary software, Zappos, David Allen Co, Precision Nutrition and others have adopted Holacracy (the system of self-governance) as an approach to build self-managing teams. Holacracy is an approach to distribute authority across the organization. In a Holacracy the organization evolves continuously adapting its structure and process through ongoing peer-to-peer governance. Common elements of organizations adopting Holacracy principles are a) constitution that defines the roles and distribution of authority related to tasks or outputs, b) roles and accountabilities, c) collaborative decision-making process enabling change in roles and authority consistent with evolution and d) meeting process that promotes co-creation and collaborative working.

Companies adopting Holacracy principles for sales organization implement following. Firstly, they create a leadership ring to build multiple owners who can eschew same corporate and sales dream and chase the horizon. However, unlike the Holacracy organizations, these rings are limited to the first level of sales, pre-sale and delivery management, the organization below each leader is still hierarchical. The leadership ring collectively evaluates opportunities, discusses approach or various sales motions (national, key accounts, acquisition, strategic account, label wins), creates proposals and pricing models, and comprehensively manages customer interaction.  The group runs as a virtual organization within the company. They validate customer requirements, aligned design and delivery, and eliminate rework. Recognizing the need for flexibility to counter exigencies, leadership ring has weekly rhythm meets to discuss progress and exceptions. Any engagement model deviations, change requests, requirement changes or client leadership exits are discussed openly, opinions are considered and a comprehensive approach is arrived after considering multiple perspectives. One strategy is collectively approved individuals are given complete ownership ad freedom to pursue the actions. To support the changes in the roles and ownership of different teams over the life cycle of a customer engagement, the sales teams build a culture and process where different people wear the leadership hat. In the initial part of customer engagement, sales resources own and direct inform and influencing of customer. However, a pre-sale expert takes over the solution enumeration and client acceptance, after which the sales leader and pricing teams dons the mantle. Finally, the crown comes back to the sales resource to chase the closure. Once the order is picked, the mantle moves to delivery as the prime owner and sales as the secondary owner. Finally, what distinctly distinguishes “Holacracy” team sales reviews, is this is not the typical high octane name calling threat laced ritual. The review system moves away from status and fault finding to status and solution offering. Each review meeting is initiated with a revisit of the purpose and with a focus on actions by individuals and team can impact positive outcome.

Companies adopting Holacracy principles for sales must understand it is a cultural change and requires both management investment and patience.  Sales team members must experience the trust and openness to share everyone view and the collective decision making. Parochial leaders may find the process limiting insular control of team and threatens group politics.  Importantly the ability to steer the focus towards “problem solving” than “one man up”  behaviour is the key to the success of the program.

Vasavi R, Sai Vinoth and Dr TR Madan Mohan

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Congregation Branding: Insights from Indian Mela’s

Congregation branding or mass branding is a unique method to reach a large number of peoples at a very low cost. It is when a large number of people congregate for a short duration, often for religious or faith interest. Events like Kumbh mela, Sabarimala or Pushkaraulu are mega congregations where the millions attend. Kumbh Mela which occurs once in 12 years, witnesses more than 100 million thronging the banks of River Ganges and its tributaries. Similarly, Sabarimala, a hilly place in Pathanamthitta District of Kerala State in India, has about 40 million peoples visiting the shrine annually. On the grandeur scale is the shrine of Tirupathi in Andhra Pradesh, the second richest religious institution in world which attracts at least 60,000 devotees on regular days and 8 -10 times the number on special occasions. Local festivals like Sonepur Mela, Asia’s largest cattle fair, in Bihar or Velankanni in Tamil Nadu attract about 2 million people and these footfalls are for just 3 days.  It is not only religious events that offer a platform for branding, festivals like Kadalekhai Parikshe in Basavanagudi or Fish downing sessions at Goud treatment center for asthma patients at Hyderabad or New Year crowds around Taj Hotel in Mumbai are all perfect platforms for congregation branding.  Holi Milan Samaroh or Baisakhi celebrations are apt for congregation branding to reach out to mass consumers. With India celebrating 120 festivals in a year where more than 100,000 people congregate, congregations offer a unique platform to reach out and engage with customers.

The advantage of congregation branding is it helps brands to reach out to consumer who may reside in media-light or are low TV and print penetration areas.  Congregation branding helps to marry the essence of the event with the brand proposition.  These events are not only attracting FMCG companies, but are finding new takers like agricultural equipment manufacturers and FMCD companies. Congregation branding exposes people to various brands to become potential buyers as well as opinion leaders and brand ambassadors.  Congregation branding drives social approval and recommendations.  It is a low cost approach to reach out to large user base. It offers the opportunity to consumers to touch and feel products. Pepsico uses the congregation for sampling of new innovations (Nimbooz Masala Soda or Butter Masti flavor of Kurkure) and enhance brand visibility.

Congregation branding is a high visibility and high impact strategy.  Companies use five types of branding approaches:  a) Freebies, b) small packs, c) service centered, d) artifact based and e) entertainment led. Freebies, small packs and entertainment led are excellent approaches to expose product consumption experience and win over customers. Service centered and artifacts based are effective approaches for surrogate branding.  Freebie is a common strategy used by FMCG companies. Tata swatch water purifiers installed 300 water purifiers for Kumbh Mela. Similarly, Marico provided Rs 1 Parachute sachet packet. Dabur put up automatic toothpaste dispenser with the tagline “Kya aapne dant snan Kiya? (Did you wash your teeth), with images of Dabur Meshwak and Red prominently displayed on the container. Tata Salt distributed 35 tons of Tata Salt to various akharas. They also gave away disposable plates with “Shubh Bhojan ki Shubh Shuruwat” (auspicious beginning for an auspicious lunch) with Tata Salt prominently embossed on it. Godrej provided hair die salons and Shanthi oil installed free oil massage centers at various akadas (sectors) for product experience. Small packs are fit for occasion and value for money propositions that help brand association and recall. Coke offers 150 ml of cola at Rs 5 and HUL offers Vim bar (washing bar for utensils) for Rs 4. The products are appropriately packed and priced to meet “use and throw” requirements of the rushed Pilgrim.

Companies can also purse surrogate or indirect product branding approaches. For example, a cement company can provide water or sanitation tanks or paper fans for convenience of the attendees.  Companies could pursue surrogate branding in multiple ways.  Surrogate branding could be fashioned around the “event” or something that is of regular use and not necessarily associated with the event. Using service mapping tools such as blue printing companies can gain a complete view of the customer experience cycle. They could identify physical infrastructure, hygiene and health related requirements, crowd control and management system that may be required to provide a safe and complete event experience. Companies could choose to adopt highly repetitive and commonly consumed services or infrequent selective services. Companies can identify service that has higher impact and one that is closer to its product/service.  Aligning branding with the moment of truth is key to effective crowd branding. Eternit Everest cements provided tents and roof shelters to pilgrims and telecom companied offered branded Umbrella’s, and light holdings at night times. Vodafone provided scarfs with their logo on them so that pilgrims can protect themselves in cold nights. A cement manufacturer may offered free rides or free group housing. Such an offering would be group based. A pharmaceutical company can offer free health care center and ambulance services, which are critical and personal in nature. A telecom company can provide a public address system and location based identification for missing persons. Such an offering could be context dependent and critical in nature. Healthcare, travel and personal loss related services offer longevity of WOM, while food and hygiene related may have shorter WOM.  Surakhsha Wrist Band, a water proof band promoted by Nerolac, received high appreciation from families.  Children and elders who received the bands were seen raving about it and flaunting it prominently.

Amulets and Idols are appropriate mediums to reach out to pilgrims and others thronging the meals.  Companies find idols of Lord Ganesh or Lord Hanuman are the most accepted across different pantheons and sects. Their child like innocence and simplicity of faith make them highly amenable to various socio-economic groups.  Amrutanjan, the popular pain balm erected a 16 feet statue of Lord Hanuman made with empty Amrutanjan boxes.  Ranbaxy offered Hanuman chalisa to pilgrims who visited kumbha mela. MNC have also pursued this strategy very aggressively. HUL engaged Sudrashan Patnaik, the noted sand sculptor to create sand art installations of Lord Jagannath on the beach in Puri. HUL Dalda oil was subtly placed on the canvass. While men and women do involve in crowd branding, it is women fold who tend to carry the artifacts back home.  Whether brochure or religious books or other artifacts, care must be ensured in designing it useful and colorful from the other gender perspectives. Marketing professionals must consider the investment, impact and reusability of artifacts before they choose a particular approach.

Entertainment, the wholesome kind is the best way to reach out to the crowd. Once Pilgrims have completed their faith related ablutions and associated rituals, they tend to have some time before their return journey home.  Tholatta, and Throw a ring are what GlaxoSmithKline found useful to draw and engage customer to get in touch with Horlicks. Throw a hoop and gain a sachet is an excellent strategy to gain interest, interactions, sense of achievement and brand association.

Sai Vinoth T R

 

 

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Successor Selection in family business

Family business continuity depends upon clear demarcation of rights, expectations and responsibilities of family members and their extended relations. Succession is a key factor that can lead to odious conflict if the selection is not felt fair by all members. A wrong selection can jeopardize the very sustenance of the business itself.  Successor selection in a single owner business or cousins consortia the criteria remain same.  Successor candidate for a family business must possess:

  • No vacillation of taking charge
  • Alignment with personal dream
  • Strong family (sibling) ties
  • Strong leadership skills,
  • Drive to scale

Not all progeny would be interested in working for family business. Identify who is interested and committed irrespective of gender and on tradition of first born. Incoming family member must be clear in owning the role and responsibility. They must exhibit “strong skin in the game” orientation in all areas including planning, execution, feedback and improvements related to the new role. If there are any signs of ambivalence, then family elders and family board must search somewhere else within the family or alternately bring in professionals to run the business while family oversees the business and family interests.

 

It is important the family business forms a part of personal dream of the successor or at least allows her to anchor to explore personal dreams. If the alignment between personal dream and the family business are weak, the succession may not yield significant results. Higher alignment would ensure the successor brings more passion and commitment to growth and transformation of the family business.

Family business successor must not only be adept at managing business, but must be able preserve and nurture family ties.  Successor should have an ability to delineate family and business rituals, positions and carry family branches and interests in all fairness. In family businesses with well entrenched non-family professionals, the successor must be able to build rapport, influence and advocate required changes to set the business to next level. The successor must be capable of leading other family members on investment. Successors who exhibit a strong player-coach orientation perform better as they can collaborate and lead within and across teams.

Successor in family business must bring strong leadership skills. The successor must be comfortable in exercising leadership alone, review and critique associates wherever necessary. Successor should be able to show tact and respect to family and non-family associates who may be involved in the business, and yet direct them to reach the desired goal.   Successor must exhibit a high dose of candor and sense of urgency, especially for anything related to bad news. Successor must be evaluated for their team building, ability to tap talent and instill a culture of excellence.

Family business succession is not just about leading existing business, but also a stage to move to next level of expansion. The expansion may come from scaling up production or entering new markets or scaling out to build competencies and capabilities to seek out opportunities in other areas and realize the growth potential. Successor in a family business must have the drive to obtain inputs every quarter, validate these inputs and act on them to realize the goal.

While family elders and board may have high access and knowledge of a successor as an individual, whenever contenders exist ask for a business plan from each. The family elders and family board must check whether their approach clearly captures the business and family dynamics, dreams and action agenda.  Once a successor is selected family elders and the board must establish the business parameters, discussed and communicated the same across multiple interest groups to buy the succession plan well in advance. Once a future leader is identified, start mentoring the person through on-the job exposure and empower him to learn and implement changes. If the family prefers to expose the successor to learn the ropes in outside business, create alternate investments that may not blow a big hole in the family books, but de-risks existing business from transition. Succession plan must detail how the first 3 quarter of induction and transition happen. Identify respected non-family mentors who would take the new ward under their umbrage and fill in “implicit knowledge”. Do not burden the successor with constant reminder on results, instead focus on outcomes. Obsession with results can induce an undue pressure on the successor and induce her/him to focus on short term gains. Remember succession is an opportunity to rewire your business. As John F Kennedy rightly said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining bright”.  Thinking strategically about the selection process enhances the quality of successor and the survival of the family business into next centenary.

Dr TR Madan Mohan

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New defence policy long on getting production in place, short on innovation

Government policies can drive a substantial impact on an industry growth, more so if government happens to the buyer. Defence industry is peculiar because in many countries, government is the major supporter, manufacturer and end user. Mr Manohar Parikkar, Defence Minister on 28th March 2016 announced new defence procurement policy (DPP-2016) at the DEFEXPO happening at Goa. The core of the new policy is to boost home grown defence industry and further Prime Minister’s “Make in India” initiative. The focus of new defence procurement policy is heavily on promoting India designed and made weapon systems (IDDM). The policy has clear directions on the procurement preferences: India designed and manufacture (IDDM) weapon systems would get the highest priority compared to license manufacturing or global import. While the policy has announced local content for qualifications, lets understand what DPP-2016 is attempting to do.

First, it is trying to address the legacy issue the defence industry faces, monopolistic defence public sector units (DPSU). Services (Army, Navy & Air) have long suffered inordinate delays, corruption, and misplaced engineering and R&D focus.  In the last few years, the DPSU have been flushed with so many orders that one of the PSU head jokingly said they could completely lay off their marketing team for next decade.   Defence ministry recognizes the need to bring in dedicated partners to de-risk delays in production of imported systems and subsystems. Under DPP-2016, defence ministry can seek private or DPSU units compete for weapon system design and development. Defence Ministry can select two “development agencies (DA)”, will subsidize 90% of the agencies weapons development cost and assure the DA of major share of the production order.  Pursuing this strategy is not going to create large defence innovation engines, but contractors like Raytheon or Northrop Grumman to ensure production schedules are met.  DA is not a silver bullet to drive innovation or “Startup India” program of Prime Minister, but a well thought out and practical policy to create private facilities.  DA’s may work on technologies, systems and subsystems from abroad, bring in system integration efficiencies. The game plan is to excite local players like Tata, Reliance, Mahindra’s to partner, build large facilities and develop local system integration capabilities. In medium run, this policy may have a spill over effect on Aerospace and Cryogenic Industry’s manufacturing requirement and allied services. The new policy envisages more industry involvement right from feasibility stage for major weapon buys and service requirements. This should eliminate the frictions that arise in design-delivery cycle as requirement gathering, standards and integration are detailed and purposeful.  We will see better design coordination in large complex projects like IFCOS and others. Hopefully, we will not see the lack of ownership and creep in multi-agency defence projects.

DPP-2016 has clearly failed how it would support innovation and MSME development. Traditionally innovation in defence industry has come from multi-party development involving government, large contractors and research institutes. In recent years, several disruptive technology innovations have emerged from rank outsiders as the demarcation between military and civilian applications is eroding.   SME play critical role in not only developing new technology, but also develop subsystem components where OEM support ceases or design appropriate digital replacements for analog components. Antiquated procurement procedures with norms such as minimum number of operative years, or capital adequacy norms and L1 pricing discourage SME’s. Defence programs can only be successful if the defence ministry shift away from tender based to need based procurement wherein the Services (Army, Navy and Air) and DRDO labs can procure novel technologies.  Most MSME operating in the sector are underinvested and need flow of cash to sustain. Defence ministry should consider support to private sector through targeted R&D incentives, access to low cost capital, priority lending and increased slab of CGSTME Scheme.  DPP-2016 is a definitive program to boost home grown defence industry and remains a work-in-programs. Hopefully when it is reviewed after six months the new DPP-2016 will address all concern areas and boost India’s defence industry growth.

Dr TR Madan Mohan is managing partner of Browne & Mohan. He is associated with several MSME defence companies advising them on scaling up, growth and global expansion.

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