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Friday, September 16, 2011

The importance of sugarcoating

"The man who calls a spade a spade should be made to use one, that is all he's fit for"
This quote sums it all about how much directness is discouraged in the workplace and even elsewhere. For all the lip service we pay to speaking our mind, the fact remains that packaging the message in verbal containers is must. Right from the early years where parents give a sugar coated bitter medicine pill to children, this approach should be instilled in us early on. The fable about pretending cold rather than telling the lion that his breath stinks, should also drive home the point. Why else would a marketer tell you to take home(instead of buy) his product? There are other examples which I complied across the various electives studied here, which I recount below
  • Carrying out BPR in the guise of ERP:- Post the scorched earth strategy of 'neutron Jack', BPR become a four letter word for employees. So now, the excuse of ERP software introduction is taken to carry out business re-engineering. Training etc is all given, but the fact is that BPR may be the main motive to implement an ERP, instead it being the other way around
  • PSU divestment to solve HR issues:- The same Govt which is too timid to solve HR issues of its premier companies like Nevyeli Lignite, Air India etc, has no compunctions divesting its stake(admittedly over the vociferous opposition of the Left/labour unions) so that the private sector partner/buyer can wield the hatchet and solve those problems. 
  • MBA speak:- A visiting faculty Mr Sunil Shah has a well developed sense of humour and ability to poke fun at the MBA jargon, by regaling us with examples of MBA jargon. For instance, code of conduct is nothing but modern day version of 'dharma'. Beyond such a trivial example, the fact remains that the jargon often helps obscure the actual work done. For example, fooling the customer that XYZ celebrity actually uses the product they recomend, is given the jargon 'framing' etc. 
  • Deal Sweeteners:- In finance deals(M&As, LBOs, financing), deal sweeteners like stock warrants, convertible features, consulting contracts, sweetheart deals etc are routinely thrown in to make an otherwise bad deal somewhat palatable, atleast appearances wise.
  • Most of HR/OB:- In these subjects, the essential lesson is to preserve appearances by bundling praise and criticism in equal measures etc.  
  • “Placebic”  information:-Psychologists studies show that By  simply  using  the  word  “because”  in  a sentence, someone was able  to persuade people  to believe  that  the  justification was
    true and meaningful. We appear to like reasons, however banal they may be.

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