Shyamsunder Panchavati

Shyamsunder Panchavati
Linkedin now a follower of Shyam on twitter

Monday, November 1, 2010


CEO's that successfully fail


The myth that surrounds the persona of a CEO as a person who never fails has been blown away by the adversities that continuously affected theindustry during the past couple of years. The supposedly best have bitten the dust, while some so called non entities have not only proven equal to the task but they have also successfully steered their organization out of the turmoil and put it back on the growth track.

Now what is the factor that separates the successful CEO from the ones that fail?

It's rarely for lack of smarts or vision. Most unsuccessful CEOs stumble because of one simple, fatal shortcoming. Here's what we aren't saying: That failed CEOs are dumb or evil. In fact they tend to be highly intelligent, articulate, dedicated, and accomplished. They worked hard, made sacrifices, and may have performed well terrifically for years.

Nor are we saying execution is the only reason CEOs falter. Sometimes they adopt a strategy so flawed that it's doomed, or they refuse to confront reality in their markets, or they antagonize their board. And when a CEO really goes down in flames, there's almost always more than one reason.

It's clear, as well, that getting execution right will only become more crucial. The worldwide revolution of free markets, open economies, and lowered trade barriers and the advent of e-commerce have made virtually everybusiness far more brutally competitive. The frantic spread of information through technology is making customers everywhere more powerful and pushing toward the commoditization of everything. Institutional investors who now own a substantial portion of equities relentlessly demand results.

One important area of failure for the CEO’s is the failure to put, the right people in the right job, and of course the relative failure to fix problems in time..

Selection &; Retention factor.

Sometimes strange anomalies not strictly related to merit become the criteria for selection and retention of an employee. A relatively less confident CEO would avoid recruiting a highly accomplished deputy for the fear that the latter would attract the attention of the governing board and present a viable alternative to the incumbent CEO. A sense of insecurity within often dictates such decisions.

On the other extreme is the highly overconfident CEO, who thinks that he can mentor and coach anyone to exacting delivery levels. My man theory comes in to effect here. Here he selects a person who he thinks will remain loyal to him in adversities and not turn tables on him. The philosophy of “I would rather take the devil I know, rather than the one I don’t.

Other less important but influencing factor could be, the person creates a positive vibe in the social media, hence a good individual to be around. The person may be more acceptable to the majority of the members of the governing board. He has successes in a different field, and hence would succeed here also. Sometimes these people are selected in preference, to the home bred executives who have contributed positively to the organization. Sacking important executives may or may not impact the organization negatively, but retaining non performing ones would definitely, waiting indefinitely in the hope performance will definitely impact the organization negatively.

More often than not these deemed success turnout to be reasons for doomed bottom lines & careers.

The CEO’s role extends beyond the bottomlines. It pays to treat employees as stake holders.
Making the bottom line your top priority may not be the best way to improve profitability. Recent research shows that CEOs who put stakeholders’ interests ahead of profits generate greater workforce engagement—and thus deliver the superior financial results that they have made a secondary goal.

This finding is based on survey data gathered from 520 business organizations in 17 countries, many of them emerging markets. If a CEO’s primary focus is on profit maximization, employees develop negative feelings toward the organization. They tend to perceive the CEO as autocratic and focused on the short term, and they report being somewhat less willing to sacrifice for the company. Corporate performance is poorer as a result.

But when the CEO makes it a priority to balance the concerns of customers,employees, and the community while also taking environmental impact into account, employees perceive him or her as visionary and participatory. They report being more willing to exert extra effort, and corporate results improve.

Inspiring Vision 

Jack Welch, the legendary former CEO of GE was well known for cultivating a breed of successful CEO’s from within, who were not only great success but also contributed to GE for more than a decade as CEO’s. The continuity factor at the top often creates the comfort , and puts them ahead of organizations that don’t have this factor.

It is important to create a vision that inspires and directs the organization. And ensure that, it is broad enough to allow great flexibility. Communicate your vision to everyone in your organization and create an innovation-adept culture environment that encourages entrepreneurial creativity to make the vision a reality.

"Leaders inspire people with clear visions of how things can be done better,“ writes Jack Welch “The best leaders do not provide a step-by-step instruction manual for workers. The best leaders are those who come up with new idea, and articulate a vision that inspires others to act.”

All said and done, it is still not possible to lay down the formula for the success or the reasons for the failure of the CEO’s. People with early setbacks in life like Steve Jobs have turned out to be great success in later part of their lives & career. "Lee" Iacocca's  story of the turnaround in Chrysler Corporation is a folklore people never tire of singing. Adversities sometimes throw up leaders that normal circumstances may not.
Hope you have enjoyed reading this article. Please come out with your valuable views.

Best wishes,


work ethics

When work is virtual, Why should physical presence be insisted upon????

Work from Home or at home at work place

I do understand that work from home is not possible when you are working in a manufacturing unit or you are doing a work which requires your physical presence at the work place.However if you are working out of your laptop, and the organisation is in a position to offer you the facility of home login, then I feel the work is more important than the workplace. Several multinational organizations operating in India have realized this, implemented it and found appreciable increase in productivity levels for the same man-hours and the efforts.
In fact in the recession hit United States and Europe, certain organizations are contemplating the implementation of the norm for everyone to work at home at least one day a week. This single step could raise productivity, save energy, decrease pollution, reduce traffic congestion, cut household expenses, increase quality of family life, and keep educated women in the work force.

In this fast moving and fast growing jet age, everything including technology, thinking, people, processes, and policies have changed to more dynamic pattern. Yet one thing that hasn’t changed and refuses to change is the rigid workplace of the last century. It is amazing in the digital age that most work is still associated with industrial age work rhythms and the symbolic chains that tie workers, knowledge and otherwise, to fixed locations. Flexible workplaces with flexible hours and days are long in coming. This I tell you is a very mild understatement in relation to the present situation. This is because of the business owners who while using latest in technology and machinery,are very primitive when it comes to work pattern. I have seen managed family managed conservative organisations managing to remain as as small as thinkng even after years of existence They are of course encouraged by the overenthusiastic HR managers fresh from B-Schools, and yet to get into the unlearning process.

I can give a classic example of a Indian Corporate with more than hundred years of existence. The chairman of the corporate had his chamber at a location from where he could view the senior managers’ cars entering the building. He used to call the senior managers coming late and discuss with them.

A good one hour used to get involved in this exercise. One hour loss at senior management. Apart from this the other loss was that the senior managers used their time, resources and ingenuity to work ways to avoid detection. Leave alone the loss in productivity & optimization levels, if the attitude at the senior management is such just imagine what would percolate to the down line managers and thousands of workers in the organisation.

One thing is very clear. When the management is fixed mentally on the entry time the employees are fixed on the exit time. productivity and work take a back seat, tasks are left uncompleted, manager can no longer influence the workers to stay back and complete the tasks. Production and productivity suffers.Discipline at cost?, self extinction?, certainly not I hope. I would always manage with a little less discipline if it ensured a better cash flow for my organisation.

Now let us take a look at the situation in USA

Many U.S. cities have become commuter nightmares as urban sprawl sends people across longer distances in their cars every week day. According to the 2008 U.S. Census estimates, 84 percent of the U.S. population lives within 363 metropolitan areas that spill over central city boundaries and, in some cases, over state lines. Jobs within central business districts have been declining, while jobs outside a ten-mile ring have been growing. Vehicle miles traveled have increased twice as fast as population growth.

Now does this remind you of cities in India ? Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad,Mumbai, Chennai and of course “Oh Kolkata”.

Choosing how long to work and on what schedule has long showed productivity benefits. People are less stressed when they can adjust their hours or days to family or personal needs. A greater feeling of control is associated with more energy and better health, studies show, making those workers more productive. Some savvy senior executives stay out of their offices occasionally even when not traveling, because they get more done in a setting with no interruptions, at home.

For many working parents, the chance to work remotely is the primary way to achieve work-life balance. Many women leave high-powered corporate and professional careers when they have children, frequently starting their own businesses they can run from home, because there is no flexibility and no middle ground between the all-out grind at a workplace demanding physical presence or opting out. A norm of remote work for everyone would ease the strain.

Technology exists to make remote work feasible and effective. Cell phones have liberated people from desks. The need for high-speed network connections is another argument for universal broadband and wi-fi access, with tax deductibility or reimbursement to employees for the connections to their home, as IBM and many US multinationals do in India.

The barriers are the usual human ones. Without a culture of strong accountability, collaboration, trust and personal responsibility, remote work doesn’t work. That culture is missing in too many organizations. Managers don’t always know how to coordinate and communicate with people they do not see face to face; they must value the work product and not the face time. Leadership is important. People need clear goals, deadlines, and performance metrics.

I know there is a huge other side to this also, the disadvantages. I leave it to my friends to argue and debate. As of now, I thank all my friends for their patience and allowing me a few lines about my work.


Shyamsunder Panchavati

Some of the recent comments on this post from various forums.

Hello Shyamsunder,
Appreciate your insight. A position we both share.
In all of history, never before has communication devices and technology existed like the ones that exist today. This comment for example, physical location is becoming less important for the conveyance of information.
It has been my dream to enlist a ‘virtual’ workforce, void of physical constraints, and opportunity to embrace knowledge held by professionals in various locations, by the retired, physically challenged, and home workers to name a few.
It is my understanding that your question (captioned above) continues to be challenged, and the response will continue to weaken, to the point we all can work more remotely.
It will become the ‘norm’, help me re-engineer this future.
Change is in the air my friend.
I see two separate and distinct separate issues being addressed in your article. First, are there drivers begging the facilitation of greater use of virtual work places. And second, is the specific workforce ready and able to adopt and accept responsibility for participationion the virtual workplace.
You aptly address the drivers for remote / virtual workplaces. I think most of us can identify with these issues and can draw from experience the many times we’ve been responsibly and productively engaged in working from remote sites. Although somewhat more elusive and greater challenge is in identifying the personality characteristics or traits of those who adapt to this model versus, what I see as the majority of individuals, those who need the structured workplace in order to remain engaged, productive and focused on their 8-10 hour daily assignments or unstructured tasks as they may be.
I’m not yet convinced that the 80-90 percent of deskbound workers are at the work maturity level at which they can thrive when working sans office. While automated call distributors insure that work is kept queued and measureable for remote call center personnel, the same is not true for knowledge workers or ‘meeting bound’ program team members.
I believe that driving success for this larger mass will come thru improved use of integrated video/telecommunications services and social networking tools which will spur an alternative social fabric to the office coffee station. The immediate next step being adoption and integration of these services into common work protocols.
We do a lot of “virtual” work and I find it that it is good to have it when you have very “proceduralized” work flow. Long project when all people know what they do etc. When nature of business is very dynamic we find it is very hard to have “virtual” work force.
Here is an example, one of our clients have a server performance problem that results in service unavailability. Server are up and down. When they down you need react right away and mulitple people have to work together to response quickly. If they all remote it is very inconvenient.
Posted by Michael Petrov
Many US companies are way behind in 21st Century management/HR with regards to the “work from home” opportunity that exists for both the company and the employee. Not all employees are equal in their job descriptions, skill sets or abilities – therefore, no outdated mandate should be given that no one can work from hom – when some can and should. I would greatly appreciate any further testimony from US that promotes the work from homeopportunity.
I’m in sales – primarily by phone and email – there is absolutely no reason for me to drive 50 miles a day to come to an office when I can do the same job and work longer hours from my home office.
Any persuasive facts or thoughts that I can send along to my management?
Thank you.
Posted by Le Anne Dolan

Mind Tattoos

Body Tattoos are Exhibits,Mind tattoos, Are They Inhibits

Few more University degrees than others does this make you a better educated person than others????

Humility born out of knowledge is divine,
Confidence born out of knowledge is good welcome and acceptable.

Arrogance born out of knowledge is Ignorance magnified.
Ignorance is trait born out of captive mind set.

Kupastha Mandukam are we one?? (Frog in well)

As Intellectuals, well we are not expected to be one.
ARE Mind tattoos, the responsible factors for captive mind set????????

People are led by the captive mindsets which lead to inhibition and inaction
Mind tattoos are the responsible factors for captive mind set

Dr Norman Vincent Peale the famous author was walking by a tattoo shop when a confused looking young man came out of the shop with a tattoo in his right arm that read “Born to Lose”. Dr Peale asked the tattoo artist about it and the tattoo artist replied…. “ I did ask the young man if he was sure that he wanted to state “Born to lose” in his arm and the young man was pretty stubborn in that. A surprised Dr Peale asked the tattoo artist – “Is’nt that surprising?” For which the artiste replied “Not really!

"Much before he tattooed it on his arm, he has firmly tattooed it in his brain, and his body tattoo act is just a reflection of his mind tattoo”.””

But what we tattoo on any part of the body for others to see is not as important as what we tattoo in our minds…. And positive, successful, energetic mind tattoos are a must to attain success…

So, it should be our conscious and subconscious endeavor to keep tattooing our mind with thoughts that are ONLY about winning, what we want to be, want to reach, want to achieve, that perfect day as desired, ALL THAT IS SOUGHT BY US FOR A GREAT LIFE.
A few degrees less or more doesn’t decide whether you are intelligent, Creative leader.

How do you differentiate creative people from others?

Creative people are full of curiosity.
Creative people are wonder struck. They are tickled by the newness of every moment. They have lots of questions. They keep asking.

what, why, when, where and how.

A questioning mind is an open mind. It is not a knowing mind. Only an open mind can be creative. A knowing mind can never be creative.

A questioning stance sensitizes the mind in a very special way and it is able to sense what would have been missed otherwise.

Problems & the blame game

When there is a problem, some people can be seen wringing up their hands. Their first reaction is to look for someone to blame. Being faced with a problem becomes a problem. Such people can be called problem-averse.

Intelligent people, on the other hand, are problem-friendly. They just roll up their sleeves when faced with a problem. They see problems as opportunities to improve the quality of life. Being faced with a problem is never a problem.
Value ideas and suggestions from the colleagues.

Creative people realize the value of an idea. They do not take any chance with something so important. They spot an opportunity in the ideas suggested by their colleagues. Delegate and define responsibility to make them accountable & responsible.

Allow them controlled discretion & inculcate a sense of responsibility & accountability in them. A responsible and winning team can only make you a winning leader.

Visible enthusiasm for achieving set goals
Effective leaders are enthusiastic about their goals. This enthusiasm works as fuel for their journey, propelling them to their goals. This is also extremely contagious and spreads fast in the team.

Perennially dissatisfied?

Leaders are acutely aware of their dissatisfaction and unfulfilled desires. However, this awareness does not frustrate them. Their frustration never reflects in their behavior with colleagues. As a matter of fact, they use this awareness as a stimulus to realize their dreams.

Be an optimist, regardless of adversities & constraints.

Creative people generally have a deeply held belief that most, if not all, problems can be solved. No challenge is too big to be overcome.

This doesn’t mean they are always happy and never depressed. They do have their bad moments but they don’t generally get stumped by a challenge.

Creative people make positive Judgment.

A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn. It can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a right man’s brow – a businessman Charles Brower

The ability to hold off on judging or critiquing an idea is important in the process of creativity. Often great ideas start as crazy ones - if critique is applied too early the idea will be killed and never developed into something useful and usable.

This doesn’t mean there is no room for critique or judgment in the creative process but there is a time and place for it and creative people recognize that.

Academics excellence should not bring about arrogance of Endemic proportions

Your having more knowledge than your colleagues is the most natural thing and that should not make the other person less of a human being. If that knowledge gives you a sense of arrogance and self righteousness, You are endemically diseased, get yourself cured immediately. Your superior knowledge should be used to help build ladders out of ignorance for lesser qualified colleagues & students.

Great people are good at reframing any situation.

Reframes are a different way of looking at things. Being able to reframe experiences and situations is a very powerful skill.
Reframing allows you to look at a situation from a different angle. It is like another camera angle in a cricket match. And a different view has the power to change your entire perception of the situation.

Reframing can breathe new life into dead situations. It can motivate demoralized teams. It helps you to spot opportunities that you would have otherwise missed.
It does not mean that excellent academics make you less educated. It only means that excellent academics & education are not interrelated directly or inversely. We had great academicians who were also excellent human beings. Dr. Rejendra Prasad, Dr.Radhakrishanan, Dr.Zakir Hussain, and Dr.Kalam. Remember our word & action directly impacts the destiny of the future generations. Our actions should help to mould the youth to become future leaders and fulfill Dr.Kalam’s dream to lead India to lead the world by 2020.

Best wishes,


Social Entrepreneurship mode and methods

My lecture at the POTTI SREERAMULU TELUGU UNIVERSITY ON 31st October 2010

Text and the power point presentation of the lecture delivered by me to Young Indian Entrepreneurs

"Social Entrepreneurship: A Change in perspective, from “Not for Profit” activity to a "transaction" towards Social Assets Accumulation"

“I am extremely happy to note that so many young entrepreneurs have taken time today to attend my lecture on Social Entrepreneurship. I hope this will probably help in removing misgivings in the minds of the youngsters about Social Entrepreneurship.

Social Entrepreneurship is an entrepreneurial effort like any other business. Only difference is, it is wholly or partially cause driven and more often than not, it complements in terms of increased brand equity to the brand that supports it.

The debate about the capitalism and “All Truism” is eternal and will continue till eternity. We arenow looking at a model that is a combination of the two. “All truisms” is a noble concept, but it is too noble a concept to sustain. What is an ideal combination depends on geographic, demographic and other factors. However there has to be a flexibility and scalability in action & approach as per the need and situation.

Social commitment and Business ethics can co-exist as has been shown by many social entrepreneurs. Prof. Mohd. Yunus’s Grameen Foundation has been doing it since 1980s in Bangladesh, where 95% of Bank’s Capital is owned by poor farmers and 97% of the borrowers are women. The people who were borrowers at one time have settled down in their business have now become investors in the same bank. “A unique case of beneficiary becoming a benefactor”

Social business as Prof. Yunus would like to call it, does not entail working without profits. The organizations do make profit, but the investors only get back their investment when the organization becomes self-sustaining. They do not take back any profit.

Any normal entrepreneur can invest an amount that is easily dispensable for him in to the social business and continue with the rest in his normal business. Prof Yunus also does not advocate social business at the cost of self-survival.

The marriage of capitalism and altruism is never very comfortable. One is about making money. The other, though often indirectly, is about giving money.

In India, which still has a socialist ethos, there is distaste for extreme monetary objective behind social lending, and what some might even perceive as greed.

The Difficulty of Being Good

Globally, the social development model accounts for about 90% of microfinance organizations, but 10% of profit-oriented providers are very large and account for over half of the industry assets.

The nonprofits lend more to the bottom of the pyramid while the for-profits tend to focus on a slightly higher tier. Also nonprofits are more likely to go for group-lending while for-profits go largely for individual-lending.

India is a land of unlimited human capital; can human capital be leveraged to build social capital?
550 million youth and still counting…. These need to be transformed into Young Indian Entrepreneurs, and their dreams need to be converted over a period of time into solid, tangible, successful business propositions.
China is the fastest growing economy in the world. It has now replaced Japan as the second largest economic power. All this because they have adopted the social model and excellently leveraged their human capital assets.

Dr. Kalam feels that there is much more to business than investment and capital. It is the commitment to take India forward to leadership position in the comity of nation. For this he feels that the youth need to be ignited to work for self-development. When an individual develops, nation automatically develops. It has been has been proved true in India‘s case.

India today is the second fastest growing economy in the world. Now this represents   phenomenal growth. This growth is contributed to by small entrepreneurs located in more than 600,000 villages in India which delves its rural economy. More than 65% of the population is dependent on rural agriculture or agriculture related business.

This is the strength of the rural work that has to be leveraged. Varghese Kurian in 1946 started the movement by mobilizing the farmers in Khaira district. He formed a confederation of small farmer cooperatives into a farmer’s movement. The movement slowly spread across to all the districts of the state and transformed itself into a revolution “The White Revolution” and created a brand “Amul”, and when Amul calls itself “Taste of India”. It is not only justified, it also reflects people extreme association with the brand that has madeIndian farmers famous throughout the world.

Social Entrepreneurship should not be considered to be a giveaway. It is a value enhancer in more ways than one to an enterprise.

Let us briefly examine how it helps in various domains.

Business and academia

There are many instances where associations were formed between the two benefiting both immensely thus promoting the cause of education.Some of them being

Google and Stanford


Progressive software and Cambridge University

NGOs and Entrepreneurs

Change in perspective from adversaries to partners. There was a time when the businesses used to avoid the NGOs and were very protective in revealing information  to them. Now the times have changed international organizations like Oxfam and Greenpeace, have forged associations with the corporates and are complementing each other’s efforts in serving the social cause.

Each day represents a success conquering a new horizon in the entrepreneurs commitment towards the social cause. This is a new augury for the future of social entrepreneurship. 

Let us hope and pray for the development of this domain, because in it lies the upliftment and development of millions of young, energetic, and ignited youth the world over.

Thanks for your patience in listening to me.

Best wishes to Young Indian Entrepreneurs.

Lead India 2020 photos

View various Lead India movement albums for the events during 2007 - 2008

 Please Do not conduct condolence meeting for Dr.A.P.J Abdul Kalam  ( A note from the office of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam)

Text of the Dr. Kalam Speech at IIM Shillong on 27th July 2015
The speech that wasn't delivered.

Dr. Kalam's last completed speech on 21st July 2015.

The Dr. Kalam I knew and worked with.....
Though it is almost seven years since I left his Lead India 2020 movement on health grounds. The memories are still very very fresh. Specially his farewell address to the nation on Doordarshan as President of India. He ended the speech appreciating the work done by us Lead India 2020.
His was the most affable and infective human smile l have ever seen or felt. I was naturally overawed by his personality and presence, and felt diffident to go forward and greet him. It was always him who took the initiative to come forward and greet me.

His " How are you sir" was very disarming.

His speeches to say the least, were very transformational. It is no surprise that I also felt the transformation. The author speaker and the professor you see in me is only because of that transformation.

I owe a lot to him..

Bharat Ratna Dr.A.P.J. Abdul Kalam RIP

It is difficult to identify me in photograph as I have white hair.

Dr.Kalam Launches 2nd National Movement from Sanga Reddy Medak Dist. 15th August 2007

Dr. Kalam addresses the  Trustees and special invitees at Hotel Novatel Hyd. 27th September 2007

Dr. Kalam launches 2nd National Movement in Karimnagar Dist. 14th November 2007

Dr. Kalam informally meets the Lead India Movement volunteers at Medchal Hyderabad 22nd November 2007

Dr. Kalam address the awareness programme on Fundamental Duties on 26th January 2008

Lead India training in West Godavari Dist 2007-2008

Lead India training in Karimnagar Dist 2007-2008

Text of Dr. Kalam's speech at the inauguration of 2nd National Movement in Karimnagar on 14th Nov. 2007

Thus Spake Kalam