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Monthly Archives:April 2016

Are jewellers protesting against 1% Central Excise or Bad Citizen Experience?

Jewellers in India were on strike for nearly six weeks. They are asking the Govt. Of India to remove 1% Excise Duty levied in the budget this year.

Today in the Parliament Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant recommended the Govt. to consider their requests and remove the duty. He went on to say that Jewellers do not mind 1 or 2% levy but they do not want this by an additional Govt. department. They have a bad experience about this department.

This is what indicates what Govts. must do to enhance the citizen experience. This is a lesson in customer experience.

What is true for jewellers is true for every customer. Customers do not mind paying extra money if they are offered a better experience or if they can avoid and do not have to undergo a bad experience.

The customer experience is so important that one of the 4 conditions Jeff Bezos have laid to enter any new business is;

…and that we have the capabilities needed to bring strong customer-facing differentiation to the marketplace.

Customer facing differentiation is about better customer experience.

Now if companies find there is a gap in the space of customer facing differentiation, they will invest in that business and therefore, competition will increase. This competition will be fought on the basis of this differentiation. Bad customer experience creating companies will find new entrants and therefore severe competition. They will experience quick erosion of the market share because the customer will quickly notice the difference in experience and they will get attracted to a better experience.

New entrants will not only get the quick market share but also command a premium because of a better experience. We have seen the success of multiplex theatres. People are paying a premium for online grocers and convenient charges to bookmyshow.com. Our jewellers are also indicating the same by foregoing the business to avoid negative experiences of one more Govt. department.

Jewellers strike is a loud and clear message to the Govt. about where they need to focus, to win hearts and minds of the people. This should trigger Govt’s better Citizen Experience drive. The UK Govt. had long back involved language experts to make the Govt. Citizen Communication/Drafting of Laws simple and easy to understand. Netherland Govt. involved service design agency to improve passport and visa services experience of the immigrants and citizen. Govts. everywhere is focussing all its energy on better citizen experience. Indian Govt’s ease of doing business and single window schemes are nothing but better citizen experience initiatives.

The Govt. is all about citizen service. Govt. must apply service design tools and principles to work on better citizen experience. Govt. should take up the projects for citizen experience on priority where it can have a maximum and far-reaching impact.

Imagine all Govt. – Citizen interactions are the incidences of happy citizen experiences.

2019 (Next General Election) is far, but this Govt or for that matter any Govt that gets re-elected that happens only on the basis of Govt’s citizen experience improving track record or hope of improving citizen experience. Achchhe Din propagated by the Prime Minister is all about better Citizen Experience. Earlier the Govt understand this the better it is not only for them but also for the citizen of India.

Jewellers are ready to pay, but why do they not want an involvement of an additional Govt. department and for that can close the business for so many days is not only food for thought for all the Govts. and bureaucrats but also for CXOs.

Our PM,  Narendra Modi is known for converting problems into opportunities, this strike is another problem waiting to be converted into an opportunity.  This will also help him in his mission (Our dream) of Achchhe Din.

More on Citizen and customer experience – The Bread is Moving.

Sunil Gandhi

E & Y Fraud Study and The Fifth idiot

“Young players play with a great deal of fairness and sportsmanship. Once they learn how important the game is to adults, they will learn how to cheat.” Dr. Ron Quinn, Professor of Sports Ethics at Xavier University.

Cheat to win is the mindset we adults have developed and that is spoiling our children too. The recent study on fraud conducted by E & Y indicates about 70% of the Indian executives would indulge in unethical business practices to achieve the targets.

Parents’ expectations are the biggest CRISIS in our society. Be it winning in sports or getting top ranks in schools or studying the course of interest of parents and even marrying the partner of their choice. Fulfilling parents’ dreams make children do unethical things and study the subjects of their least interest. Parental pressure and expectations are the biggest stress for the children.

Parents’ are indulging in unethical practices in their workplace too not only to please their bosses but also to earn their bonuses. This Win by any Means behaviour they master at workplaces, they pass it onto to their children.

We have mastered the art of becoming parents, but when it comes to parenting there is no formal training or classes or coaching. Therefore, we do it in an untrained manner. Most of us fall into the following category: Over parenting, bad parenting, careless parenting and show parenting.

I believe that my role as a coach is not to prepare my players for success in today’s game, but success in all their games, throughout the game of life. – John O’Sullivan, Founder & CEO, Changing the game project. 

Isn’t it also the role of every parent too?

To correct the workplace unethical conduct we badly need The Fifth idiot in business. This can have a positive cascading impact, virtuous cycle. Ethics at workplace will bring back ethics at home and ethic in parenting.

Sunil Gandhi

Who wants to suffer from Existential Distress?

Existential Distress is the term I learnt from the podcast titled ‘The Man Who Studied 1,000 Deaths to Learn How to Live’ by Tim Ferris with BJ Miller.

The meaning of these two words is:  Existential distress at the end of life has been defined as hopelessness, a burden to others, loss of a sense of dignity, desire for death or loss of the will to live and threats to self-identity.

Existential Loneliness has entered the literature and “is understood as an intolerable emptiness, sadness, and longing, that results from the awareness of one’s fundamental separateness as a human being.”

However BJ Miller, who is an expert on Death and has witnessed about 1000 deaths, in the Podcast defines the term as;

When a terminal stage cancer patient thinks that he has lost an opportunity to live a meaningful life, he feels this – Existential Distress.

A life is almost gone and one can’t do anything about it. A life which could have been lived differently, meaningfully, beautifully, enjoying the small things, without grudges, for own happiness is now on the verge of collapse. These feelings make the patient suffer from Existential Distress.

Unless we see our death in front of us, these feelings never occur and we keep indulging n irrelevant, unimportant and self-boasting things. The point is: Is it only at the time of death, we should feel Existential Distress? That is the time when we can’t do anything about it except repenting.  & therefore, should we not become aware of our daily life NOW? A question – How meaninglessly we are living our life? should not occur to us?

The whole objective of our life, what we have made out is to run after the money till we die. The money, which we will keep here at the time of death for someone else to splurge, waste or fight for. But unless we are terminally ill, we don’t realise that we are also going to die –  if not in the near future than certainly in the foreseeable future.

Those of us who are not terminally ill should also wait till the time we are near death to feel Existential Distress? Or when we have a chance and time to make our life meaningful, we must become aware and act to make it meaningful?

Whether we are terminally ill or no, if the death is certain than whether we suffer from Existential Distress or enjoy Existential Satisfaction, our action should start much before our proximity to death. It is not necessary that only people with terminal illness suffer from Existential Distress, everyone can suffer from this state of mind if the life is not lived meaningfully.

The opportunity to do something meaningful, something which we loved to do, the opportunity to be helpful, the opportunity to forgive someone, the opportunity to pursue our dreams and hobbies will be LOST sooner than we realise. & we may not be terminally ill, but terminally aged.

Thinking about OWN death is the greatest moment of awakening about the life.

We all know about Opportunity Cost, in financial terminology; however, we are blatantly ignorant about Opportunity Cost when it comes to our own life choices. Terminally ills can have lessons for each of us on HOW to live a life.

Sunil Gandhi

Why everyone needs to know about Anekantavada?

Sushma Swaraj, Indian Minister of External Affairs recently said that Jainism’s principles of Anekantavada, Aparigraha (non-hoarding) and Ahimsa (non-violence) offer a solution to the present day problems the world is facing. She was referring to extremism, climate change, and inequality.

Next week when the world will celebrate Mahavira Jayanti (birth of Mahavira, twenty fourth and the last Tirthankara (Teaching God) of the present time cycle.) today I am writing about one of the most important and fundamental principle of Jainism – Anekantavada.

The world is suffering from absolutism and so much so that it has reached to the level of extremism. Extremism has spread to the extent of even killing people not compliant with the views of the extremists. This kind of world view is on the rise and tolerance limits of people not only have drastically come down, but also are on the further decline on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, religions, we human being has ‘invented’ have become points of discontent and a great reason for dividing people rather than uniting them. Every religion has a point of view and understanding of the truth. However, unless the thing is examined from all possible angles, view of the truth is either conditioned or partial.

Jain philosophy is very eloquent and elaborate on the subject of logic, metaphysics and life science. One of the fundamental principles of Jain philosophy is the principle of Anekantavada. Anekantavada is defined as ;

It refers to the principles of pluralism and multiplicity of viewpoints, the notion that truth and reality are perceived differently from diverse points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth.

The literal meaning of the word is: anekānta (“manifoldness”) and vāda (“school of thought”)

The guiding principle behind the concept of Anekantavada is; that objects are infinite in their qualities and modes of existence, so they cannot be completely grasped in all aspects and manifestations by finite human perception. Every human expresses his views as per circumstances, in relation to his mental condition and experience.

In her book, Applied Philosophy of Anekanta, author Dr. Samani Shashi Prajna writes;

A thing has many characters and it exists independently. It is called substance (dravya). It persists in and through all attributes and modes. Substance is defined by Umāsvāti as guṇaparyāyavad dravyaṁ, that which possesses qualities and modes. Out of these innumerable qualities of a substance, some are permanent and essential, while others are changing and accidental. The former are called attributes (guna) and the latter modes (paryāya). Substance and attributes are inseparable because the latter is the permanent essence of the substance and cannot remain without it. Modes or modifications are changing and accidental.

Anekantavada means Non-Absolutism which gives space for accommodating other contradictory view. Anekantavada helps us in understanding others’ point of view with a broad mind. The whole truth, complete in all aspect is only known by Omniscient i.e. Kevali, known in Jain terminology. Rest all can view the things or situation in seven different ways (Neither six nor eight).

These are;

  1. syād-asti—in some ways, it is,
  2. syān-nāsti—in some ways, it is not,
  3. syād-asti-nāsti—in some ways, it is, and it is not,
  4. syād-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is indescribable
  5. syād-asti-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is, and it is indescribable,
  6. syān-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is not, and it is indescribable,
  7. syād-asti-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is, it is not, and it is indescribable.

These seven conditional ways are also known as Svadvada. This can be understood with the help of an example:

I am right – can be viewed as;

  1. I am right (to someone agreeing with my view)
  2. It may not be right (to someone not agreeing with my view)
  3. It may be both right and wrong, depending upon certain conditions.
  4. Independent of all conditions, my views are indescribable (all knowledge rest on certain conditions)
  5. Indescribable in itself, I may be right subject to certain condition (a combination of 1 and 4)
  6. Indescribable in itself, I may be wrong, subject to certain conditions (a combination of 2 and 4).
  7. Indescribable in itself, I may be right or wrong depending upon certain conditions (a combination of 3 and 4).

Another example:

Is Narendra Modi (NAMO) the best Prime Minister?

  1. NAMO is the best Prime Minister.
  2. NAMO is not the best Prime Minister.
  3. NAMO is the best on certain aspect of his performance.
  4. We don’t know whether he is the best Prime Minister.
  5. NAMO is the best Prime Minister subject to certain conditions.
  6. NAMO is not the best Prime Minister subject to certain conditions.
  7. NAMO is the best or may not be the best subject to certain conditions.

Each of these seven propositions examines the complex and multifaceted nature of reality from a relative point of view of time, space, substance and mode. To ignore the complexity of reality is to commit the fallacy of dogmatism.

This can be still be better understood by a famous example which we all know:

A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: “We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable”. So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it. In the case of the first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said “This being is like a drain pipe”. For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, “I perceive the shape of the elephant to be like a pillar”. And in the case of the one who placed his hand upon its back said, “Indeed, this elephant is like a throne”. Now, each of these presented a true aspect when he related what he had gained from experiencing the elephant. None of them had strayed from the true description of the elephant. Yet they fell short of fathoming the true appearance of the elephant.

These multidimensional viewpoints are conditional views and not a complete view, but they are also not false views.

Dr. Satkari Mookerjee in his book on The Jain Philosophy of Non-Absolutism writes,

The Jaina conception of dynamic constitution of reality and of the eternity of existence may be applied in the various field of human activity to ensure our progress towards the summon bonum*, which is the goal of our destiny.

(* the highest good, especially as the ultimate goal, according to which values and priorities are established in an ethical system.)

This theory is used by scientist in metaphysics, is also equally applicable in our day to day life.

Albert Einstein himself remarked, “We can only know the relative truth, the real truth is known only to the universal observer.”

“We can only know the relative truth, the real truth is known only to the universal observer.”

Jeffery D. Long in his paper ‘Anekantavada and Ahimsa’ writes,

“the relationship of anekāntavāda to ahiṃsā is the relationship between theory and practice–to be more specific, that anekāntavāda is the abstract theory or philosophy of which ahiṃsā is the practical embodiment, and that ahiṃsā is the practice of anekāntavāda.”

Sushma Swaraj and Jeffery D. Long both are right, the only solution to widespread violence around us is to propagate the principles of Anekantavada. The biggest practitioner of this principle in the recent history was Mohandas Gandhi.

We all can find some peace of mind if we practice this principle in life.  Our anger, rivalry, ill feelings and all personal negative emotions towards others can be better understood and managed.

Practicing Anekantavada is a panacea for not only global problems but also for many of our personal problems.

Sunil Gandhi

The common link between Ki & Ka, The Fifth Idiot and a Ted Talk

Ki & Ka, the movie by R Balki was released this Friday on 1st April. The movie is about swapping of the roles of House Wife and House Husband. The movie conveys the message in quite an interesting way.

Ki & ka

But the moot question we all must understand is the mindset of the character Kabir, played by Arjun Kapoor in his usual serious ‘2 States’ like style.

His thinking is in a rush to achieve higher post in corporate hierarchy; we spend our lives and end up retiring with multiple diseases. Finally, after retirement while taking a treatment of disease, we have acquired through high-stress jobs, in an expensive hospital, we think it’s good that I have done all this slogging so that now I can afford expense treatment.

First, we rush and stressed out for mindless rush for growth and post and then we suffer our rich retirement while treating multiple diseases. The thinking is quite captured in my book The Fifth idiot. You may refer my blog The Journey of the Fifth Idiot.

This mindless stressful life in the corporate world is going out of fashion quickly and people inside have started realising there is something wrong the way we run our organisation.

Ki & Ka is not just about beginning of house husband role swapping, but it is also about big PAUSE and thinking about endless slogging in the name of loyalty, promotion growth or security to the extent of dying in the process. & Cost of stressful jobs is not only diseases we acquire in the process, but also the opportunity cost of ignoring our dreams, ignoring our family & loved ones, spending finite years of our life in just earning money so ignoring our hobbies. Finally, donating most of our earned money, which are left out after expensive treatment we could afford for our body. Isn’t it a time and PAUSE to take a distant and detached view of our life which has very finite years left?

Listening to Ted Talk What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness by Robert Waldinger would be a valuable investment of 12.47 minutes of your life.

Sunil Gandhi