Friday, December 26, 2008

Is the American Dream Dead?

How uncertain the world has become. In the last couple of months, all our assumptions about the way things will be and how things operate have all changed and fearfully for the worst.

Recently I came across a book by John Kotter called The new rules. This book was actually first published in 1993 period when the baby boomers were in their prime and booming. This book was actually trying to point to the fact that what lasted in the previous 20 years is not going to continue and the baby boomers need to look at the fast changing landscape if they want to achieve success in their life and career.

Fast forward today and still some of the principles sound very valid for our generation also.

Some of the good pointers from the book

Fact: From 1947 to 1973 Americans were accustomed to an growth rate that would almost double their living standards every 1.6 generations. After 1973 the economy slowed down to a almost a point where it would have taken almost 12 generations to achieve the same.
Contemplating on this how does towards economy look. The last 10 years for us has been good, and now many countries are catching up. Not long ago we could have seen that in countries like India,China etc the standard of living was almost same if not less from grandparents to grandchild. But in the last couple of years these countries have progressed a lot and definitely we are going to see growth in these economies moving forward.

Some of the other rules which are still valid for our generation and for the generation coming ahead.
New Facts
Do not rely on conventional career paths, those which were winners for most of this century will no longer be providing much success.
Keep your eyes glued on globalization and it's consequences;everything is changing offering both gigantic new opportunities and equally large hazards.
New Responses
Small is beautiful, move towards small and entrepreneurial and away from big and bureaucratic;speed and flexibility are winning in an increasingly competitive world.
Help big business from the outside as well as on the inside;huge opportunities exist for consultants and other service providers.
Management is out, leadership is in.
Backbone for all the above
Increase your competitive drive;high standards and a desire to win are essential today and in the future.
Never stop trying to grow, lifelong learning is increasingly necessary for success.

Your thoughts.................

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My prespectives about the Madoff scandal

What happened here: in layman terms, this person took many from new customers and gave it in the form of interests to his old customers. This is called the PONZI scheme. It had to run out of gas sometime and what better time then the present crisis in the market where he did not have any new customers coming in.

What really hits me in this, is that we all these agencies with fancy names which are supposed to monitor activities in the market and they did not have a clue something like this was happening behind their back, well as it comes to light they did get some pointers which they never followed. At hindsight it is all 20/20.

Can we blame the agency in it's failure to prevent this scandal.

Look at all the mess which are happening, ENRON,Fannie Mae,AIG,Citibank,Wachovia. All this have a common theme, every time it is a different issue which is not possible to be tracked through a system which is very rigid and bureaucratic in nature.

Every time we learn from a mess, and then put check and balances around that issue and then later another issue crops up, becomes the song of the day and the story continues.

We see similar themes in corporate also, a customer gets into a bind because of bad service from your side, you fall head over feet to resolve that and then again after sometime some other problem creeps in and you are caught off-guard.

The point I am trying to make is we need a fundamental change in the way we address compliance issues. We need a sort of feedback loop with some person constantly looking at the defined parameters and doing course corrections as and when it is deemed fit. Knee jerk reactions will not solve the problem, it will only mask the issue and it will definitely come back to bite us.

Questions an organization can ask itself.

1) Can you first define the parameters which need to be measured which in your opinion will tell you a story,
2) Can you have your system to consistently capture the values for these parameters on a regular basis
3) Define threshold values for these parameters, and if the value exceed that value, escalate the same.
4) Finally ensure that each and every escalated value has a reason attached to the same.

You will need a single minded dedication to do this and it should be supported by the top management. Unless that happens it will just be a ritual.

I see that lot of people have lost money in this Madoff scandal, but the worst affected are the charities which lost their money from endowments.

Hopefully the new administration will put in some good checks and balances in place so at least the world will still believe that the US markets are fair and transparent.

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